Barry’s on Broadway will close after 20 years of serving neighbors and weekend warriors

“I appreciate all the customers we made over the years, the generations of families we knew – and their dogs.”
5 min. read
Barry’s on Broadway. Sept. 5, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Barry Zadikoff may have been destined for the bar business.

His uncle got the family started in service in the 1950s, when he started buying local watering holes. He brought friends and relatives into the fold as he poured drinks in Five Points and downtown - before anything like Larimer Square ever existed. Zadikoff dropped out of George Washington High School to join the fun.

"I probably thought I was too smart to have to be in school. I could probably make money, do something else," he recalled. "Once the ball was rolling, there was no turning back."

He was right. Zadikoff spent over 40 years in the industry, 20 of those in his neighborhood bar, Barry's on Broadway, where he sought to make a cozy spot for people who lived nearby.

Now, he's preparing his long-awaited retirement, and he's closing Barry's for good.

Zadikoff told his staff on Tuesday the bar will shutter on Sept. 30. He told us the closure was due to an impasse with his landlord, who "wouldn't negotiate a lease that was favorable for us.

"So we decided not to pursue any further renewal of the lease," he continued.

Barry and Mary Zadikoff in their bar, Barry's on Broadway. Sept. 5, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Deal or no deal, Zadikoff was ready for a change.

The 68-year-old moved his business onto Broadway when the neighborhood was "somewhat declined." His only similar neighbors on the block were The Hornet, the Brown Barrel, which became Badger's Pub, and Club Shamrock, "another seedy bar" that became the Irish Rover.

In the decades since he opened, he watched as the neighborhood grew, as Broadway became hip, as rents rose, as homelessness became an issue on the corridor and as COVID shut the block down. But the tumult outside never stifled his business, in part because he became a fixture at the door, checking IDs and keeping watch into the weekend's wee hours.

"I don't want to work the bar anymore because I want to be able to see everything. I want to see whose coming in, who's on the street. I want to see the register. I want to see who can't walk and who can walk, and who should be served and who shouldn't be served. And I can throw somebody out with less confrontation than any door guy," he said, adding he could never stand sitting on his hands at home. "When stuff breaks in bars is when you're f****** busy. When your toilets overflow or people throw up in them - you think some door guy's going to take care of that for me?"

But other changes have weighed on him. The industry shifted away from sales reps, and his suppliers have forced him to start making his own orders on apps that he hasn't totally embraced.

Barry Zadikoff stands works the door at his bar, Barry's on Broadway, late-night on Aug 29, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

The neighborhood, too, has hit another moment of decline, though he has a sense things will end up OK on the block, eventually.

His employees were bummed to hear the news.

"I think they were surprised. They love this job. It's some of the easiest money, and I'm the easiest guy they've worked for," he said.

Zadikoff is bummed he didn't get the exit he'd hoped for - he imagined he'd sell Barry's outright, with everything inside - but he can see the silver lining in this moment. He's ready for some rest.

"I've never had more than a week off in my entire career. And every week that I've ever taken off, it's like a pain in the ass to take it off, and it's a pain in the ass to come back. And while I'm gone, all I'm doing is being worried that somebody's f****** something up, something's going to break. So honestly, I've never really had a real restful vacation in my entire adult life," he told us. "I'm going to work on me for a while."

Barry's on Broadway. Sept. 5, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

He and Mary, his wife, want to check out Florida and the Carolinas. They might find a beach in Mexico, too.

While they're not too sentimental about their exit from Broadway, Zadikoff said he will miss his customers. They've been good to his family, and their business has given his kids the resources to go to college and pursue their own futures outside of the service industry.

"I appreciate all the customers we made over the years, the generations of families we knew - and their dogs. Because if it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have anything. So I appreciate all the business we've been able to muster up," he said. "It's been a good run."

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