Remember Wurstküche? The sausage emporium out of Los Angeles was one of the first restaurants to close in 2016, but hardly the most memorable. Since it lasted less than a year, we barely got to know the place before it shuttered. But sadly, some of our favorites spots around town, from dim dive bars to upscale eateries, also went dark this year. Here are ten that we'll miss the most, in alphabetical order; fortunately, a few may make comebacks in 2017.
Argyll Whiskey Beer
1035 East 17th Avenue
Argyll's original incarnation drew praise (as well as a Best New Restaurant award) in its Cherry Creek location, and owner Robert Thompson made sure that the best of the quirky little place made the transition when the reboot opened in Uptown in 2014. But despite a great menu from chef John Broening and an impressive selection of Scotch whisky at the bar, the new Argyll never caught on to the extent of Thompson's other venture, Punch Bowl Social, and Thompson closed the place in May to focus on his growing PBS empire. The address, which had previously been Las Margaritas for more than two decades, is still for lease.
701 South University Boulevard
University of Denver graduate and former professional hockey player Jim Whiste retired and sold the Campus Lounge after running the neighborhood bar for forty years. Regulars gathered at the end of September for one final round before the plug was pulled on the corner neon sign. While the green chile, burgers and smothered fries weren't the best in town, sitting down at the low bar or joining friends at one of the booths felt comfortable and familiar; the Campus Lounge was among a dying breed of bars that captured the essence of old Denver. That special feeling can never be recaptured, but restaurateur Dan Landes, owner of City, O' City, plans to reopen the place under the same name and with a cleanup of the interior. The menu will be modernized, but that neon sign will soon guide neighbors back to the venerable bar's corner door. Watch for it to reopen early in the new year.
The Cherry Cricket
2641 East Second Avenue
What was reported as a small kitchen fire at one of the city's favorite — and longest-standing — burger bars ended up closing the eatery since Thanksgiving. Parent company Breckenridge Wynkoop Holdings says it plans to reopen the Cricket in the first quarter of 2017 and also to convert the current Breck on Blake, at 2220 Blake Street, into a second Cherry Cricket in the spring. For now, there's nowhere to satisfy a Cricket Burger craving, but soon there could be two options — if the real-estate market doesn't come up with an even tastier deal for the original. According to public records, Unico Properties purchased the building from Breckenridge Wynkoop in 2015 for more than $10 million and signed the Cherry Cricket to a twenty-year lease — but the property is zoned for up to an eight-story structure. But the restaurant group notes that the Cricket will return in its original form and won't get "Cherry-Creek-ified" during the renovations.
The Inventing Room
2020 Lawrence Street
Chef/owner Ian Kleinman had been running the Inventing Room as a catering company and pop-up kitchen for hire for nearly a decade before he grabbed a space in the Ballpark neighborhood where he could serve up liquid-nitrogen ice cream and other wondrous desserts. But just after the shop's one-year anniversary, Kleinman lost his sublease on the space and was forced to close. The chef says he's already scouting new locations, so we're hoping we'll see a return of some of the city's most creative confections in the new year. The Inventing Room had shared square footage with the restaurant space that had been Pop's Place, which closed in September, and Lower48 Kitchen, which made a go of it for two years before shutting down just as the Inventing Room opened. The entire space is currently vacant.
Jezebel's Southern Bistro
3301 Tejon Street
Scott Durrah and Wanda James opened Jezebel's in 2012, serving Southern comfort in the tiny corner eatery where the Squeaky Bean got its start. But in October, the couple closed their restaurant in order to focus on their cannabis company, Simply Pure. The space won't be dark for long, though; Juan and Katie Padro, owners of the nearby Highland Tap and Burger and Bar Dough, will soon deliver a Latin American restaurant called Señor Bear, helmed by chef Blake Edmunds.
Keep reading for more sad closings.
1600 East 17th Avenue
Chef/restaurateur Mary Nguyen had a good run at her flagship kitchen in Uptown, first with Parallel 17, which captured the essence of her Vietnamese roots, and then with P17, which gave voice to her fondness for French cooking. But in May, Nguyen closed the restaurant in order to focus on the growth of Olive & Finch, which she plans to expand from its original location at 1552 East 17th Avenue to several outposts throughout metro Denver. The first, at 3390 East First Avenue, is slated to debut in late January or early February. Meanwhile, Steve Lockton and Lindsay Donnelly are working on opening Jack's Uptown Grill in the former P17 space, though permitting delays have pushed the launch date out several months.
3651 Navajo Street
When Patsy's shut down after 95 years of serving Italian fare to generations of north Denver residents, it was nearly like losing a family member. Sure, the menu was outdated and the dining room aging, but we have many fond memories of grabbing a seat at the vintage bar among regulars, enjoying a date night at a dimly lit booth, and experiencing gracious, professional service that upheld classic notions of hospitality. While Lower Highland has lost many of its vintage Italian joints, new restaurants continue to make the neighborhood a great destination. Patsy's last owners, Ron Cito and Kim DeLancey, didn't reveal who had purchased their place, but they did say this: "We're very excited for the venue coming in. It will be a great fit for the neighborhood." Paper is now up on the windows, and those new owners have a liquor-license hearing this week.
5395 West 48th Avenue
Classic dive bars are becoming an endangered species in Denver. One of our perennial favorites, the Squeeze Inn, closed in October, leaving us with one less watering hole for cheap drinks and nights of rubbing elbows with like-minded late-night denizens. The building, a 1,091-square-foot bungalow built in 1961, was sold to new owners and is currently vacant; rumor has it that it will be leveled for a parking lot.
After more than three decades in downtown Denver, the Trinity Grille closed at the end of service on Saturday, February 13. Owner Tom Walls is concentrating on his last remaining restaurant, Castle Cafe, at 403 Wilcox Street in Castle Rock — where you can get some of the best fried chicken in the metro area — as well as Next Door, the bar next door to the fried-chicken fiefdom. While it took much longer than anticipated, La Loma, which spent months renovating the place, finally moved from its longtime home in Jefferson Park in November, and is now serving its unique brand of "Mountain Mex" in downtown Denver.
2239 West 30th Avenue
Last in alphabetical order but first in our hearts, Z Cuisine shuttered unexpectedly at the end of the summer. We still miss the lively din of the tiny eatery and its bar, À Côté Bar à Absinthe, as well as the evocative, soulful French fare of chef/owner Patrick Dupays, whose meticulous sourcing and deft touch meant there was always something fresh and inviting on the seasonally shifting menu. Z Cuisine's days are not done, however. Florida chefs Jamille Cucci (sister of Edible Beats founder Justin Cucci) and Dominique Falkner bought the restaurant in September and are expected to reopen sometime this spring.
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