Food News

The Rotary's Louisville Location Destroyed by Marshall Fire Just Two Weeks After Opening

The Rotary team will be looking for a new location in Louisville in 2022.
The Rotary team will be looking for a new location in Louisville in 2022. The Rotary
On December 15, the Rotary opened its second brick-and-mortar location at 1116 West Dillon Road in Louisville. But when the devastating Marshall fire swept through the area on December 30, the restaurant was destroyed. "We just feel grateful that we're safe, we have homes, we're insured," says Scott Boyd, who owns the Rotary with his brother Brian and chef Don Gragg.

The eatery got its start as a stall in Avanti in late 2018 and opened its first brick-and-mortar outpost at 217 South Holly Street in the Hilltop neighborhood in January 2021. It landed on our list of 100 restaurants we can't live without in 2022, thanks to its healthy yet flavorful take on fast-casual dining.

But the past year has been full of challenges. "We had to leave [Avanti] because of the pandemic, opened the first location in the middle of a pandemic and winter, then opened the second in the middle of winter and it burned down two weeks later," Boyd explains. "We've spent our toddler-hood with fires and a pandemic, but I think one day we'll look back and say, 'That time was hard, but it made us stronger.'"

The Hilltop location was also forced to close on January 3 because of a pipe problem, but is expected to reopen January 4.

Boyd lives in Louisville, and was home getting ready to head into the new restaurant when he first saw smoke from the fire. "I knew I needed to get down there," he recalls. He arrived around noon, "and the winds were so strong and the smoke was so strong, there was already ash and smoke in the building," he recalls. Boyd and his team began shutting down the restaurant but didn't feel like they were "in imminent danger" at that point, he notes.

Around 1 p.m., Boyd noticed a nearby tree and hedge on fire. "I said, 'Don't do anything else' ... We just bailed," he remembers. He and his employees all got out safely. When Boyd returned home, his wife and guests visiting from out of town were ready to evacuate. "We got the cats and dog, put them in the car and went to a friend's house in Niwot. It probably took around 45 minutes just to get out of town — everyone was leaving," he says.
click to enlarge Ring security camera footage shows the Marshall fire closing in on the Rotary's Louisville location on December 30. - THE ROTARY
Ring security camera footage shows the Marshall fire closing in on the Rotary's Louisville location on December 30.
The Rotary
There were Ring security cameras set up in the restaurant, so "we watched it set fire and burn down," Boyd says. "It sucks that we lost the business, but we're extremely fortunate that we're safe. We have ten close friends who lost their homes — one lost her home and her business."

While Boyd knows that it will be a process, he's optimistic that the business insurance will cover the loss. The fire left a number of employees out of work, but Boyd says the owners are figuring out how to best support them, whether that's through insurance, unemployment, FEMA support, or a combination thereof. "Luckily, everyone got paid on Friday," he adds.

As a resident of Louisville, Boyd was particularly excited to open that location, and says that finding a new spot in the town will be the Rotary's number-one priority in the new year — though ultimately, the goal is to expand even more in the future, including a potential airport location in 2022. "I think we really have something here," he says.

While Boyd appreciates the support that the Rotary has received since sharing news of the fire, he says he'd rather see financial support go to the immediate needs of those who have lost their homes. "Visit us in Hilltop, follow us on social media for news about the new Louisville location, but I don't want to take money away from someone who needs clothes and basics right now," he explains.

If you want to support victims of the Marshall fire, we've put together a list of fundraisers and other ways to help
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Molly Martin is the Westword Food & Drink editor. She’s been writing about the dining scene in Denver since 2013, and was eating her way around the city long before that. She enjoys long walks to the nearest burrito joint and nights spent sipping cocktails on Colfax.
Contact: Molly Martin