Many treasured Denver venues have battled to stay open during the pandemic, juggling ever-evolving restrictions and guidelines with serving the communities they love. As we enter our first summer with vaccinations, it’s time to check in on some of our favorite places.
Vine Street Pub and Brewery
1700 Vine St.
The good news: They will be back.
The bad news: Probably not this summer.
Vine Street Pub in City Park West is one of five Mountain Sun Breweries operating in Longmont, Boulder and Denver. The original brewery in Boulder was founded in 1993, while the Denver expansion on Vine Street opened in 2012.
Kevin Daly, one of the founders, explained that his team will only operate three Mountain Sun locations this summer, opening up the other two, including Vine Street, in the fall. The next venue will open on Sept. 14, and then Vine Street will be next.
“Getting everyone back into the swing of this business has been a lot more arduous than we thought,” Daly said, adding that management has had to train around 40 new staffers. “We don’t want to run five hubs poorly. So we’re just trying to run Long’s Peak, Southern Sun and Under the Sun really well this summer.”
The Vine Street location has also undergone renovations during the pandemic, and will reopen with completely new bathrooms, a remodeled kitchen and newly tiled walls.
“The actual pub itself is pretty much the same,” Daley said. “It’s been cleaned and freshened up, but the bathrooms and the hallways look different. It’s gonna be ready to go for another 10 years.”
Benny’s Restaurant and Tequila Bar
301 E. 7th Ave.
Things are not looking good for this Capitol Hill staple. For more than 30 years, Benny’s Restaurant and Tequila Bar has been the go-to spot for authentic Mexican dishes and margaritas in Denver. But the restaurant hasn’t opened its doors since March 27, 2020.
Six months after closing down, owner Benjamin Armas explained on the restaurant’s Facebook page that the family-run business was staying closed to keep high-risk family members safe.
The most recent Facebook update was over a month ago on May 13, although the page still lists the restaurant as open. Benny’s staff told patrons they’d be “opening up hopefully very soon.”
Unfortunately that didn’t happen. When we visited, the windows were covered in plastic and masking tape. Tents had been pitched on the grassy strip alongside the restaurant, and people had laid out sleeping bags inside the restaurant’s patios. The venue’s website is no longer active and the phone line has been disconnected.
Neighbors at Lou’s Food Bar were not confident that Benny’s would come back, but many expressed support and sadness. According to city records, the property is still owned by Armas.