Denver's restaurant scene will look fairly different moving forward, as several businesses have closed ... for good.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis said last week he hopes to allow restaurants to open to in-person dining by the end of the month, marking Memorial Day weekend as a goal. The decision will depend on the spread and number of cases and be made based on data gathered during the safer-at-home regulations that are currently in effect.
Customers have expressed hope at getting back to their favorite eating spots, and eateries hope to open up to some form of in-person dining soon. The uncertainty, lack of business, and unknown future have caused several Mile High City eateries to shut down, some for good.
These Denver restaurants have already closed permanently due to the coronavirus outbreak:
The Market on Larimer Square
For 37 years, locals and visitors to Denver knew The Market as a can't miss place to go. Its delectable cakes, espresso, bakery, and deli were legendary. Sadly, Denver will have to move on without The Market. Owner Mark Greenburg faced an uphill battle to try and reopen after shutting down, so he decided that he was going to close for good.
20th Street Café
A staple in downtown Denver for 20 years, the 20th Street Café will not reopen after shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Reopening after the pandemic seemed impossible, so owners Rod and Karen Okuno made the tough decision to close permanently.
Scratch Burrito and Happy Tap
After seven years serving food here in Denver, this local grub stop in the Highland neighborhood has closed permanently after the owner reported over 50 percent losses in sales the last few weeks. Despite trying everything they could, the business could make it work, and owner Clay Markwell realized he could not keep going. He made the heartbreaking decision to close and had to let his staff go.
Racines has announced it will close for good, though the owners say its timing is not related to the coronavirus shutdown. They plan to reopen for a month-long farewell once able to so. Owners Lee Goodfriend and David Racine said the land is being sold to a developer, and that the decision to close was not due to the coronavirus shutdown. The rising costs of keeping the business open in Denver after 36 years and wanting to retire prompted them to look at closing.
Euclid Hall has been a presence on Larimer Square for 10 years and will not reopen, a decision the owners made in mid-March. The owners report their lease expires in August, and with no clear path to reopen, they chose to shut down permanently. They hope to find a new location to resurrect the eatery, however, as of now, they have no solid plans or location in mind.
Restaurant and foodservice industry employees have filed close to 55,000 unemployment claims in the state of Colorado, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE), the highest of any industry so far. Both big names and mom-and-pop shops have shuttered, small businesses bearing the brunt of the financial hit. Many business owners say they are taking a week at a time, waiting to see when and if reopening is possible.
Knowing they will not be able to reopen with the same level of volume, new health and safety guidelines to follow, trying to enforce social distancing and mask inside the business, and keeping employees and customers safe and healthy are just a few of the new challenges these restaurants face.
A push for more outdoor seating has been growing among restaurant owners, hoping it's a way to offer dine-in eating once open. A letter was sent by a group of local business owners to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock last week imploring the mayor to allow them to explore new options for seating outside.
As business shutdowns and layoffs in the food industry become permanent, dining out in Denver will likely look and feel much different for years to come. Nationwide, it's reported that at least 15 percent of restaurants have already closed permanently, with that number expected to grow. With over three million people laid off already, the National Restaurant Association reports that number will jump to at least seven million in the next few weeks and over $100 billion in losses to the industry as a whole.
We've put together a handy restaurant guide for Colorado-based restaurants that have been organized by city. Each restaurant listing gives you links to its current available options, whether it be ordering food for delivery or purchasing a gift card.
Do you know of any local restaurants and eateries that have closed permanently in the Denver area? Are you worried about what the dining scene in Denver will look like moving forward? Let us know how you feel about all this in the comments.