Vesta restaurant closes permanently in downtown Denver

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to hasten restaurant closings across Denver, one part of the city in particular, long considered a top dining destination, could become a culinary wasteland.

“There’s no office traffic, no business travel, no tourism and no hotels, and most of local clientele unfortunately seems to be avoiding downtown,” said Josh Wolkon, who on Thursday announced the permanent closure of his restaurant Vesta, which opened in 1997 on Blake Street.

Vesta joins other recently shuttered restaurants nearby such as 20th Street Cafe, Morton’s, The Market and Euclid Hall, which have all closed their doors during the pandemic.

Previously known as Vesta Dipping Grill, over its 23 years, the restaurant had transformed from a concept centered around housemade dips and sauces into a 21st century farm-to-table occasion spot.

Andy Cross, The Denver Post

Vesta server Kye Larsen cleans glassware in preparation for dinner service July 19, 2018.

Some of Denver’s better-known chefs cut their teeth at Vesta, including the late Brandon Foster, who worked his way up to executive chef over more than a decade in the Blake Street space, before moving on to lead the kitchen at Project Angel Heart.

Foster died suddenly from a seizure earlier this month, a moment that Wolkon said was the lowest point for him and his shifting restaurants.

“To not be able to gather and hug and be together at Vesta in a situation like that was really difficult as well,” Wolkon said. “(Brandon) really helped transition between the Vesta of the past and the Vesta of the present.”