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Before the 16th Street Mall even existed, Marlowe's opened its doors, and then the Paramount Cafe right next door. Combined, the restaurants have existed for 121 years.
"We want to go out before we can't go out on top," said John Ott, a Premier Ventures Inc Partner, who operates both restaurants as well as Govnr's Park Tavern and Lala's Wine Bar and Pizzeria. "I know people are looking to probably throw our landlords under the bus, but that's the furthest thing from the truth. This isn't about rent or any one thing. They've been great partners and incredibly supportive to see us through this."
Ott said the transformation of the 16th Street Mall, Union Station, RiNo and The Highlands has put a strain on their businesses.
"There's probably 20 spokes to this wheel. There's (sic) changes to neighborhood demographics, the advent of craft brew, labor shortages," said Ott. "We’ve just decided it’s time to move on to other things and let the next generation take over."
"Business is business, and if you can't make a profit and if you can't stay in business, it's really difficult to stay open just for sentimentality," said Carolyn Livingston with the Colorado Restaurant Association, who said growth is a major factor in the changes. "Because competition is so much greater, but also the increased costs around running a restaurant are so much greater; as well because cost of living in Colorado are (sic) growing as well."
The questions now is what will fill the very visible space on the 16th Street Mall.
"This is a really key corner for us in downtown and we have every confidence we're going to see a great new opportunity and a great new restaurant in that location," said Randy Thelen with the Downtown Denver Partnership. "It will take a little time to redevelop and reposition the restaurant. I think the property owner is going to have to reinvest to bring it to a more modern look and feel."
Meanwhile, a restaurant tenant is ready for Govnr's Park and Lala's is on the market, according to Austin Roberts, whose family owns the buildings. He said they are looking for retailers in the 16th Street Mall locations and are open to something "creative." (Food Hall, anyone?)
The Paramount Cafe has already closed, serving its last customers on September 2. Two more restaurants in the Capitol Hill neighborhood are close behind. Govnr's Park Tavern will close on November 11 and Lala's Wine + Pizzeria will end its run two days before Christmas.
Lala's Executive Chef said he is grateful for the ten good years they've had and the few months they have left together.
"It's a family, and we've all kind of grown a lot together and I'l be sad to see us part ways, but I wouldn't change a second of it," said Joel Miller.
Govnr's Park Tavern posted the following message on its Facebook page announcing the closure:
Thank you for being a part of more than four decades of laughter, friendship, food, libation and celebration. We are incredibly proud of our contribution to the exciting Denver restaurant scene and have always strived for a balance of gracious hospitality and fantastic value. The longstanding success of our restaurants is a beautiful collaboration of many.
We regret to announce, after a combined 121 years of business, at the conclusion of our leases we are closing the doors of our four Denver restaurants.
Mike Plancarte and John Ott, 20+ year owners of Premier Ventures Inc, contributed significantly to the restaurant’s successes while also donating substantially to neighborhood charities. Although they are excited to pursue other endeavors and devote more time to their families, they have always treated these restaurants and communities as home.
Govnr’s Park Tavern will celebrate its last day November 11th, Marlowe’s on December 22nd and Lala’s Wine Bar + Pizzeria on December 23rd. Paramount Café’s last day of business was September 2nd. We are so grateful to our co-workers, family, vendors, and friends who have made running these restaurants unforgettable. Few relationships last so long. We will deeply miss our patrons, our employees, and the invaluable partnerships we’ve created over the years.
To our guests, we say thank you. We enjoyed serving you and it has been our pleasure to share in your memories over countless lunches and dinners, birthdays, anniversaries, and celebrations of all sorts. You are part of our family and we could not have succeeded for so long without you—-THANK YOU.
To our vendors, we hold you in the highest regard, as you share our passion and dedication and have worked tirelessly for our continued success. Thank you for being authentic, respecting and understanding our goals and values, and making it personal.
To our thousands of wonderful employees over the years, we are eternally grateful to be part of your life stories. Many of you met best friends and partners within our walls. You’ve shared your energy, your personality, and countless hours of dedication with us and we thank you. We absolutely could not have existed without you, nor can we take the next steps without your support.
We sincerely invite everyone to visit all of our restaurants to make new memories and celebrate nostalgia with us as we wind down this era. It is very important that we offer time to say goodbye. Please join us through the end of this amazing journey.