After more than a decade operating by Coors Field, Tavern Downtown and neighboring Cowboy Lounge have closed their doors to LoDo revelers.
A sign posted outside the Market Street Tavern tells customers that both establishments are closed, while four more Taverns and four other concepts by the same owner remain open around Denver, Eater first reported on Monday.
Tavern Hospitality Group owner Frank Schultz said it was just “time to get rid of some real estate” in the Ballpark neighborhood. He opened his first bar there on Market Street in 1997.
“I’ve been there 20 years, since ’97, and its been a good run,” he said. “It was time to either put millions into it… or sell it.”
Schultz says that stretch of Market Street, where he’s operated bars for two decades, is about to change drastically. In February, he sold the building at 1949 Market St., as well as the parking lot next door, to San Francisco-based Fillmore Capital Partners for $11.25 million.
Along the longtime bar district, more changes are afoot. Across the street from Tavern Downtown, LoDo’s Bar & Grill sold late last year to Kenneth Monfort — son of Rockies co-owner Charlie Monfort — and partners Jason Marcotte and Matt Runyon of Summit Capital Venture Group.
While those new partners have added pop-ups to their bar’s existing offerings, they say they plan to keep operating LoDo’s indefinitely, according to Eater. But over the summer, plans were submitted to the city for an outpost there of country music star’s Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, BusinessDen reported.
As for Tavern Downtown and Cowboy Lounge, Schultz says they were aging concepts that struggled with the same challenges facing everyone in his industry: increasing property taxes, a steady labor shortage and the prospect of a minimum wage raise for tipped employees.
“We ran our course, we had a good run, and we’re just going to kind of pull up, pull it back a little bit and then jump back in,” Schultz said. “We believe the area is going to be in for a big spike.”
The Tavern Downtown opened on Market Street in 2006, followed by Cowboy Lounge in 2007. More recently, the former became known for its 11,000-square-foot rooftop patio. Across Denver, sister Taverns continue to operate in Lowry, Platt Park, Littleton and the Tech Center.
Schultz also owns The Soiled Dove, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Otra Vez Cantina and Chopper’s Sports Grill.
The Soiled Dove and his newer concepts aren’t going anywhere, he said. But he will rebrand the Tech Center Tavern into Mexican eatery Otra Vez this winter. The plan is to close Tavern DTC in February and reopen sometime next summer.
Then, early next year, a remodel of the original Tavern location on Uptown’s 17th Avenue will begin, though Schultz is “not 100% sure” it will reopen again as a Tavern.
“I want it to be a Tavern because it was our original Tavern; it was my most fun store, but things have changed a lot,” Schultz said. “We’re proud of what we’ve come up with now targeting the millennials.”
Tavern Uptown was the first location of the brand to open in 2002. Last year, another Tavern in Wash Park closed after a decade in that neighborhood. But Schultz says he and his mother and business partner Terry Papay are ready to pare down their properties and refocus.
“We’re kind of happy to downsize a little bit before we regrow,” he said, “and she kind of wants to wind down a little bit.”
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