The Bite

East-side story: The quick brown fox would have to be quick indeed to jump over Colorado's Lazy Dog Sports Bar & Grill. Back in November 1999, Steve Ross's original Lazy Dog (2880 Diagonal Highway, Boulder) added a Denver branch at 4100 East Mexico Avenue (a space that had previously been occupied -- very briefly -- by the Larimer Group's Starlight Cantina and Pizzeria). Sports and food fans alike flocked to the place, drawn by the big-screen TVs and big servings of good pub grub ("A Big Win," September 7, 2000). Denver's Lazy Dog rated a Best of Denver 2001 award, and it keeps winning converts.

Now the Dog's had another pup. Last week, a third Lazy Dog Sports Bar & Grill made its debut, this time at 14050 East Evans Avenue in Aurora, where it's serving up much the same atmosphere and food as the first two. (Only the East Mexico Dog offers pizzas, however.) But the space's previous tenant, High Tide Grill, hasn't been sunk forever. In fact, it's owned by the same folks who brought us the Lazy Dog -- and next month, the seafood restaurant should resurface at a hot address in the southern suburbs that's much better suited to an ambitious lineup that includes fresh catches and an extensive raw bar.

Why did the Lazy Dog take the plunge into seafood? "Steve really missed it," Cindy Tayler, general manager for both the Aurora Lazy Dog and the future High Tide, says of her New York-born boss. "He missed the East Coast fish-house thing. We had the right idea in the wrong location. Now he's going to put it in the right location."

It should be quite a catch.

Open-and-shut cases: Thia's Cafe (6495 East Evans Avenue), whose great Greek food earned it Best Greek Restaurant honors in 1997, is no more. Even better than Thia's food was its personality: Chef/owner Jimmy Lemonidis made the place a real family affair, and the Saturday-night parties were legendary -- particularly when Brethren Fast was playing. What had been Greek to us is now MiLo's, a sports bar.

Also gone is the Squad Car Cafe & Chile Parlor (1503 Grant Street). "Closed," read the signs posted on the windows. "We tried, for a year and a half, against many obstacles. It just did not work out. This Squad Car will not reopen. We thank you for you're past patronage."

Rumor has it that early on, the Squad Car met with some opposition from neighboring eateries. (The 300 block of East Colfax, just to the east of the Squad Car, is crawling with bars and restaurants: CityGrille, a pizza place, Wolfe's Barbecue and Taki's line one side of the street, the Walnut Cafe, Red Room and Congress saloon the other.) More likely, though, is that the Squad Car met with opposition from patrons who'd tried its food and just didn't want to return. We don't know about the "dreamsickle shakes" advertised on the window, but the chile was enough to inspire a citizen's arrest.

Regas Christou could tell you all about what it's like for a citizen to deal with the city. In fact, he will, at the slightest provocation. "It's ridiculous and makes no sense," he says of the city's liquor-license enforcement. "Who are they to say what is loud and what is not?" After many go-rounds, modifications and concessions, though, the city has finally agreed that the rooftop bar at the Funky Buddha Lounge (776 Lincoln Street) is not too loud. The Ginger Bar also happens to be one of the coolest spaces in town and celebrates its grand opening with a party on June 9. Matisse Cafe (560 South Holly) has a new patio, too. More important, it has a new liquor license.

We'll drink to that.

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