The demise of the Tabor Center's food court

There's no shortage of places to get food along the 16th Street Mall. But if you're after a grab bag of mediocre grub served from metal basins behind glass barriers -- a food court, in other words -- things are grim and getting grimmer. Last Friday's closing of Panda Express -- the nail in the Tabor Center's food-court coffin -- leaves 16th Street with only one remaining food court.

For two decades, Tabor's third floor food court was a go-to spot for folks escaping their cubicles. But now it will go from cheap calorie consumption to expensive calorie burning, with the imminent arrival of the newest branch of the Colorado Athletic Club. The club's many facilities, including a pool, massive cardio and weight rooms, a juice and coffee bar and a patio overlooking the mall, will open in December, but a "light" version will debut this month.

For now, the old food court is just yards of depressingly vacant real estate that once held, in addition to Panda Express, a Falafel King, Extreme Pizza, Casa Burrito, Subway and Meyers & Wolfe. Everything's been covered with drywall and painted with invitingly vague snippets about impending comforts and improvements. Except the Panda Express space, which is currently being gutted, as you can see from the photo up top.

With the closure of ESPN Zone, the only other space that remains open on the third floor of the Tabor Center is the Purple Martini.

Check this space tomorrow for the contrasting scene in Republic Plaza, the mall's last surviving food court.

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