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The lights go out for the Denver Diner. After holding down the southeast corner of Speer Boulevard and West Colfax Avenue for the past thirty years, this classic café has abandoned it … at least in its current location.
The legendary 24-hour restaurant has long been a haven for night owls and for those looking for a place for a casual morning get-together, a quick lunch or dinner with good food. It closed on March 17th along with the other Colorado restaurants and did not return until June 1 under strict restrictions on capacity and hours – no more late meals after skipping, not that the bars were open late. Then on November 20, when Denver was relocating under Level Red policies that banned indoor dining, the Denver Diner decided to stay open for more than just patio service (none to start with) and take-away options.
And in early January, when Governor Jared Polis allowed dining rooms to reopen under Level Orange guidelines, the Denver Diner decided it was time to finally close its doors on 740 West Colfax Avenue. “It is with a heavy heart that we leave this iconic room behind,” says Konstantine Skordos, who has worked in the family-run restaurant since his youth.
It was in his blood: Skordos’ father George had moved from Greece to the United States at the age of fourteen and had taken on restaurant jobs across the country. He eventually settled in Denver, where he bought one of the last locations in the local White Spot chain in 1990, which began in the 1960s. He turned it into the Colorado Cafe and renamed it the Denver Diner a year later.
Skordos continued to work at the Denver Diner when he attended Johnson & Wales University’s Cooking and Hospitality School and is now General Manager.
Konstantine Skordos with a regular player in August 2018.
The Denver Diner has been dark once; After a fire in 2014, the family updated the room while doing repairs and then returned to business 24/7.
The family sold the 3-acre property that the Diner Diner stands on for $ 3.5 million in July 2018, but that’s not why they decided to move on, explains Skordos. The new owner had agreed to a lease extension until 2024 and generous terms by then, but “opening the store with a capacity of 25 percent made it almost impossible to survive with such high labor and food costs,” he says.
With the decision to end the pandemic rather than wait and see, Diner Diner is following a few other mainstays in Denver including Racines, the Market, and the 20th Street Cafe. Some of Skordos’ other favorites are also closed, including 12 @ Madison, Euclid Hall and a neighborhood sushi bar.
Denver Diner is definitely the favorite list not only from Denver diners but also from fans across the country. Before the last big concert in Denver on March 12th, Post Malone came to the restaurant alone, Skordos reports, and “took $ 200 take-out and gave a really nice tip.”
Late night fans filled the Denver Diner in August 2018.
And that wasn’t all. “A variety of celebrities attended the Denver Diner,” says Skordos. “We’ve probably had the entire Nuggets team before in the James Posey era. The Stanley Cup was actually in the Denver Diner when the Avs won it. I met Method Man and Redman. Billie Eilish left her credit card in the diner. “
Before the pandemic, the Denver Diner was a landmark to be relied on day and night. “What I think my restaurant meant to a city that needed a 24/7 hangout. It was a place where you could feel sober after the bars. It was a place where you could feel at home could “, says Skordos. “With our amazing staff you never felt out of place. It was a place you could count on to have great food anytime. It was a place where we could turn your night around if you were had a terrible night. “
“It was the most diverse customer base I’ve seen for a restaurant,” he continues. “At one table police officers would enjoy their food and at another table some young adults would stink of weed. We would have judges and criminals sitting next to each other at the counter. We would have celebrities, ordinary people, tourists all under one roof. .. In the end, I always found it amazing how people can put their differences aside so they can eat with us. “
And they’ll be able to do it again someday … even though Skordos doesn’t know where the Denver Diner will end up next. For now it is enough to remember what this meant to Denver.
“I will never forget the place and I will make sure that no one else does either,” he says. “We may be gone for now, but not forever. We’ll be back, Denver, better than ever.”
Check out our 24 Hours at the Denver Diner slideshow.
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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; She has been an editor since then. She regularly participates in the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a true journalist in John Sayles’ Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton with flip-flops, and has won numerous national awards for her columns and feature writing.