The sad news showed up on the Village Cork's Facebook page last week. Wrote owner Lisa Lapp: "After 16 1/2 years of laughter, friends, great loves and incredible wine and food, I have made the decision to close The Village Cork." Over the years, the Cork had evolved from an intimate wine bar to a gathering place and top eatery for Platt Park neighbors, but the restaurant, at 1300 South Pearl Street, will close after dinner service on Saturday, June 30.
"I'm just pooped," explains Lapp. "I've been in the restaurant business for 38 years, and owning my own for sixteen and a half. It just hit me — I'm done."
It's been a difficult decision, especially when she considers her staff and customers, but Lapp says the daily grind of never-ending problems has taken its toll. "I love it when I walk in and see my staff and all my fabulous customers — that's the fun part," she adds. "My staff is more family than staff...and a lot of my guests have become family, too. I met my husband here."
The owner says that if she could lock the doors and walk away for a year before coming back, that would be the ideal solution, but restaurants don't work that way. Instead, she's already sold her place to a Denver restaurateur she can't name yet, saying only that "this is one of my peers who I have a lot of respect for; he's the only one I could imagine taking this spot."
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Closing the Cork won't mark the start of a long vacation for Lapp. "June 30 is the last day...and I'll probably end up spending the night there," she says with a laugh. After that, she'll turn her attention to SoDo Village Market, the small grocery store she owns with her husband, Mike, at 2395 South Downing Street. The market has been open for just under a year, and Lapp says the neighborhood has really caught on to her commitment to organic produce and minimal packaging (a philosophy that carried over from the Village Cork).
There won't be a send-off party for the Cork, but Lapp says customers have already been coming by to say goodbye. "I want to start the celebration now — because it's going to go by so fast," she says.
For those looking for something just a little different from the Cork's crew, chef Caleb Phillips is hosting a one-day "Chicken and Biscuit Shack" pop-up from 8 a.m. to noon this Sunday, May 20. He'll serve "Grandma Caleb's" biscuits with chicken or a vegetarian version with shiitake mushrooms.
Is Lapp really putting a cork in the Village Cork for good? Maybe not. Lapp says that while she plans to take a breather from the restaurant world and focus on her market, she's already thinking about reopening her restaurant at some point in the future. And that's good news for folks who have made the Village Cork their home for the past sixteen years.