Hard Rock Cafes 16th Street Mall lease is ending this year

Hard Rock Cafe, a mainstay of Denver’s 16th Street Mall, could be getting ready to play its last show.

The Florida-based chain of rock ’n’ roll-themed restaurants made its debut at 500 16th St. Mall in downtown Denver when the Denver Pavilions first opened in 1998. But the Hard Rock Cafe’s lease is ending this fall. So, will the Hard Rock Cafe close for good?

Well, Mark Sidell, president of Gart Properties, which owns the Denver Pavilions, confirmed that a possible closure “is not inconsistent with the previous discussions we’ve had with the company.”

Hard Rock Cafe did not respond to a request for comment.

If the tourist attraction, popular for its burgers, rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia and a 20-foot neon guitar sign, does close before the end of the year, this will be the first time that the 11,736-square-foot space, which sits in a prime spot on the 16th Street Mall, will be available for lease.

In 2021, Hard Rock Cafe filed a lawsuit against landlord Gart Properties in an effort to get out of its lease, arguing that it had the right to terminate its lease when pandemic-related government restrictions on business hit the one-year mark, citing a specific lease clause.

But Gart Properties countersued in March of that year, saying the chain’s challenges predated the pandemic. The landlord and tenant eventually reached an undisclosed settlement agreement in September 2021.

Hard Rock Cafe’s future in Denver, and in general, is uncertain. In July 2020, chairman Jim Allen told CNBC that the brand was struggling. The chain has had to close a handful of longstanding locations, like its Detroit location in 2019 after 15 years, the 24-year-old Phoenix location and more surprisingly, the 25-year-old Las Vegas restaurant in Feb. 2020, none of which were caused by the pandemic.

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