Changes on South Broadway cloud future of 43-year-old Famous Pizza

Lease not being renewed
Posted at 8:59 PM, Jul 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-21 23:02:35-04

DENVER -- It wasn't long ago that South Broadway was a place you drove through to get somewhere else. Now, it's packed with bars, restaurants and stores. 

It's a destination for the evening crowd, and that popularity is taking its toll.

It's becoming more difficult to find a parking spot, and businesses are finding out the hard way that some landlords have other plans in mind for their property.

Gus Mavrocefalos opened Famous Pizza at South Broadway and Bayaud in 1974. He learned a few weeks ago that his landlord won't be renewing his lease.

"They want to use the place for something different," he said. "Not for pizza anymore."

Mavrocefalos told Denver7 that he's looking for a new place to rent because he's not ready to retire.

He hasn't found one yet and that concerns his employees.

"I'm very worried," said Aleka Damarelos, "because I'm a little old and I don't know how easy it will be for me to get another job."

Damarelos, who was worked at Famous for 30 years, said she loves her job and loves working for Gus.

"Some people say, 'Oh my God, I have to go to work again,' but for me, never. I never have that problem, because I love my boss. I love everything here."

Mavrocefalos says things were a lot different when he first opened Famous Pizza. He said it cost 20 cents an hour to park.

"Now, it costs a dollar an hour," he said, "if you can find a spot."

The restaurant owner said there are more homeless people there and rents are escalating.

"It's ten times higher than it was when I first started here," he said.

Mavrocefalos said there are some other properties available, but "it's very hard to pass inspection and very expensive to fix the place, inside and out, and the rent is crazy."

Longtime customers are just now learning about Famous Pizza's plight.

"You know, the clock has been ticking all over Denver," said Neil Silver, who has been stopping in at Famous Pizza periodically for 30 years. "I'm afraid this is just going to be another long-time establishment that's going to go away with the times. It's unfortunate."

Silver said he lives in the Cherry Creek area and noted that that's another neighborhood that is undergoing dramatic change.