20th Street Cafe in Denver closes permanently amid coronavirus shutdown

After 74 years in downtown Denver, the 20th Street Cafe this week closed permanently amid the coronavirus shutdown.

Third-generation cafe owners Rod and Karen Okuno announced the closure Wednesday on Facebook.

“We thought we had a few years left before retiring,” the Okunos wrote, “but with all that has happened in the world and the economy we decided that trying to reopen after the pandemic and trying to make a realistic go of it would be impossible.”

The Okunos ran 20th Street Cafe for 20 years, following in the footsteps of Rod’s parents and grandparents, who opened the daytime restaurant at 20th and Lawrence streets in 1946.

“Somehow 20th Street Cafe managed to stay open through a lot of good times and not-so-good times,” they said. “Some upturns and crazy downturns in the economy, but this final one proved to be insurmountable for our little corner of the world.”

20th Street Cafe is the latest long-running Denver restaurant to announce its permanent closure during the coronavirus shutdown. The Market at Larimer Square announced earlier this month that it would close after more than 40 years in business.

Racines restaurant also announced this month that it would close permanently after 36 years, but not until 2021. That restaurant’s owners say their decision to close is unrelated to the pandemic.

The Colorado Restaurant Association this week released the results of its latest member survey, in which 22% of 200 responding restaurant owners said they would close by the end of May if they weren’t able to reopen their businesses.

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