Denver restaurant closings of 2022: Domo, Saucy Noodle, Annies Cafe
Historically, running a restaurant has proven to be stressful. Add in societal upheaval from the pandemic, subsequent supply chain delays, unprecedented staffing challenges and record inflation, and the stress grew to a level that was too much to handle for some businesses.
Denver and the surrounding suffered a slew of restaurant casualties in 2022, from buzzy-worthy new eateries to institutions nearly a century old.
Here’s a memorial to 18 beloved restaurants that called it quits this year, and your annual reminder to support the local businesses you love so they remain part of the fabric of the Mile High City.
When the building on Colfax Avenue that housed Annie’s Cafe went up for sale, owner Peggy Anderson figured she would have to buy it or move the restaurant. But instead of moving the beloved diner for the second time in its 41-year history, Anderson decided to retire in June, taking the menu of Benedicts and omelets along with her.
Bonnie Brae Tavern
Bonnie Brae Tavern, opened in 1934, was a stalwart of Denver’s dining scene and family-owned until its closure in June. Known for its menu of burgers, salads and made-to-order pizzas, the tavern closed shortly after owners Ricky and Michael Dire sold the building. The business operated for 88 years.
Diners far and wide took a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, including longtime favorite Breakfast King, which had been open at the corner of Santa Fe and Mississippi since 1975. The 24-hour breakfast joint shuttered for good in January.
Crush Pizza + Tap and Crush Wing + Tap
Denver lost two businesses when local restaurateur Jason McGovern decided to close up shop at his Highland pizza joint, Crush Pizza + Tap, and his East Colfax wings spot, Crush Wing + Tap, in April. Crush had been serving pizza for a decade, while the company’s wing restaurant opened in 2021. Sales were down substantially at the former in early 2022, and the latter never really took off, McGovern said.
Domo Japanese Country Restaurant
TikTok has proved a boon for some small restaurants, but for Domo, a beloved Japanese eatery, it was too much of a good thing. Owner Gaku Homma shuttered the Lincoln Park staple in September after becoming a social media sensation, telling Westword he couldn’t maintain his standard of quality with the volume of customers.
One of Denver’s pubs bid an Irish goodbye in January after almost 18 years in business. Brothers Frank and Jim McLoughlin previously owned three Irish pubs in the Mile High City, though two closed prior to The Snug. The owners cited pandemic hardships, such as staffing issues and rising supply costs, for closing.
Open Sandwiches debuted in March 2021 as a pop-up concept within another restaurant, then moved to a new spot about six months later. It served sandwiches designed by well-known local chefs, but that meant hardly any of the menu items used the same ingredients, said owner Jake Riederer. Ultimately, Riederer said he was experiencing burnout and decided to shut down the shop in December.
Pandemic problems, such as rising food and material costs, caused this Texas-style smokehouse to shutter in early 2022. It left a brisket-sized hole in the barbecue scene that, thankfully, was quickly filled by former staff members, who purchased the Owlbear smoker and took over the space in RiNo to open Pit Fiend.
Denver’s Park Tavern abruptly and mysteriously closed in July after 25 years. The formerly divey joint had been updated in recent years to be brighter and include a rooftop patio. Owner Lou Belegratis later said he had “had enough of the industry.” It has since been replaced by a taphouse and eatery called The Deck.
Opened in 2016, The Preservery helped set the standard for food in Denver’s then-burgeoning River North Art District with its new-American restaurant, which also functioned as a market and deli. But rising rent prices and the desire to spend more time with family played into the decision to close in September, owners Whitney and Obe Ariss said.
Rosenberg’s Bagels (Boulder)
Less than a year after the popular Rosenberg’s Bagels opened an outpost in Boulder’s University Hills neighborhood, owner Joshua Pollack said it wasn’t financially viable. The bagel shop closed in October, along with two locations of Pollack’s ice cream shop Sherry’s Soda Shoppe. Rosenberg’s Bagels remains open in Aurora’s Stanley Marketplace and Five Points in Denver.
Diners fell like dominoes in 2022 and Rosemary Cafe was no exception. The decades-old restaurant closed in May after a change in ownership. Josh Epps, owner of Jelly Cafe, recently leased the space with plans to do a $750,000 renovation and open a spot called Harvey Park Grille.
Forthcoming renovations to the historic Sussex Building in Denver’s Larimer Square have ousted several beloved businesses, including Russell’s Smokehouse, which is expected to close after New Year’s Eve. Owners Frank and Jacqueline Bonanno don’t plan to reopen the high-end barbecue joint or Green Russell, a speakeasy in the same building. However, they are poised to take over restaurant operations at El Rancho in Evergreen soon.
The Saucy Noodle
For 58 years, The Saucy Noodle served Italian comfort food, including famously oversized meatballs, to Denverites in the Wash Park neighborhood. But after its building sold this summer, the eatery announced its new landlords planned to evict the business. The Saucy Noodle closed in August.
This Park Hill favorite wowed diners for 17 years with a seasonally rotating menu that never ceased to inspire. It closed in August after chef-owners Amy and Dustin Barrett said personal circumstances, including the passing of Amy’s dad, led them to decide it was time to move on from the restaurant. It will soon be replaced, however, by Larimer Square mainstay Bistro Vendome, which moved for the same reason as Russell’s.
To The Wind Bistro
What the 15-seat To the Wind Bistro lacked in size, it made up for in dazzling dining experiences. The restaurant on East Colfax, which was a hot spot for celebrations and dinners before a show at the nearby Bluebird Theater, closed in May after an eight-year run. Chef Bo Porytko is opening Molotov Kitschen there this year.
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