Tough times in the fish business

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Now I am not one that would ever lament the loss of a chain restaurant to the vicious machinations of the bankruptcy court.  Matter of fact, I've been known to dance (just a little...) whenever I hear of another Olive Garden going dark and certainly didn't lose any sleep over the fate of Bennigan's.  Sucked for the employees, sure, but there isn't a line cook out there worth the price of his knife kit who can't lose a gig on a Thursday and have a new one by Friday, dinner rush, provided he's got a bit of hustle and isn't terribly particular about where he lands.

But today, there was some serious bad news from the world of the chain restaurants: Oceanaire Inc. (the parent company that owns all the Oceanaire Seafood Room restaurants) filed for Chapter 11 and, with remarkable speed, shuttered four of its sixteen locations nationwide.  Those who got the axe?  Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Seattle and Charlotte--a quarter of its operation.  But according to reports early this morning, the Denver location at 1400 Arapahoe Street was spared the chopping block.

Still, I was nervous.  See, though it might be a chain, too, Oceanaire is one of the good guys--a chain operation that I actually like.  So just to make sure that I'd still be able to get some bacon steaks and skate wing whenever I felt the need, I put in a quick call to local manager Bob Bonner and asked him the only question that really mattered:

"So, uh, you guys are still open, right?"

He told me yes, and the relief in his voice was quite plain.  I told him I was happy for him and for all his crew--that I would've hated to have seen Denver lose one of the few bright spots in its chain-restaurant landscape.  And Bonner's response?

"Trust me.  Me, too." 

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


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