Shish Kabob Grill, Kokoro, The Hornet and 34 other Denver businesses added to legacy program

Other businesses added to the Denver legacy list include Rockmount Ranch Wear, Tony P’s, Dazzle and Our Mutual Friend Brewing.
6 min. read
Obeid (left) and Zeid Kaifo prepare orders at their family’s Shish Kabob Grill, at Grant Street and Colfax Avenue, which has been drafted into Denver’s Legacy Business Program. April 17, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

When Obied Kaifo found out that the City of Denver has a Legacy Business Program, he decided to apply for his family business, Shish Kabob Grill.

After 20 years of operating on the corner of Grant Street and Colfax Avenue, Kaifo thought well, seems pretty legendary.

“The term legacy program makes me think that somehow being here for 20 years is a legacy, which I hope so,” Kaifo laughed. “Being on Grant and Colfax, in Capitol Hill, through 2008, through Covid, through turmoil, protests, it’s actually no short of a miracle that we're still around… We’ve seen every Broncos parade, every Nuggets parade, all the opening days. But it’s been good. It’s certainly a legacy.”

Recognition and celebration

The Denver Legacy Businesses program, run through the Economic Development & Opportunity, is all about recognizing and celebrating local businesses that have made an impact on the city for more than 10 years.

It’s a pilot program that began this year, starting with about 13 businesses including Lucero's Mexican Food, Athmar Mart and Truong An Gifts.

Shish Kabob Grill, at Grant Street and Colfax Avenue, has been drafted into Denver's Legacy Business Program. April 17, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

DEDO recently announced the addition of 37 more businesses into the program including Shish Kabob Grill.

“When the city recognizes the businesses that have been around long enough, there's a reason for that,” Kaifo said. “There’s a reason why these businesses have been around for 20 years, other than customers showing up. When municipalities actually recognize it, it gives it a different feel. Like it's if someone were to shout you out on Twitter or something.”

And that’s the main goal of the program, a shout-out.

The idea of the program stems from similar ones in San Francisco and Austin. The goal is to provide public recognition, marketing support and networking opportunities. 

Once in the program, the businesses are placed in the Denver Legacy Business Registry. The database lets visitors know what neighborhood and Council District the businesses are in, what type of service they provide and when they were inducted into the program. 

Shelby Morse, a spokesperson with DEDO, businesses are given branding toolkits to further display the businesses’ significance to the city. Morse adds that through the registry the city can push businesses on the city’s social media channels and ultimately, “encourage and push people towards these businesses.”

Kaifo said the recognition is vital for businesses because being forgotten is the worst thing that can happen. 

Juneid Kaifo finishes up an order at Shish Kabob Grill, his family's restaurant at Grant Street and Colfax Avenue, which has been drafted into Denver's Legacy Business Program. April 17, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

“The fear in businesses, especially restaurants, is that you'll forget about us because you don't always come by,” Kaifo said. “Hearing ‘Oh, I haven’t been there in a while, that's the worst word for a restaurant. Because in that while, businesses could shut down… Small businesses really need the consistency of a community.”

With the program providing that extra word-of-mouth or just another platform to be seen, Kaifo said he can see the program elevating businesses over chains that have the money for commercials and massive marketing measures. 

Rachel Lyons, the program director, said businesses also have access to customized support and training opportunities. There aren’t any grants associated with the program but Lyons said being recognized essentially puts businesses on DEDO’s radar so if they are in need, they can be pointed to grant opportunities within the city organization, such as the Family Business Preservation Program.

The community aspect the program provides through possible peer networking and city networking was a big appeal to Masaru Torito, owner of Kokoro in University Hills. 

Torito said there’s no telling what being in the program could do for Kokoro, which celebrated 38 years of business in January, but being able to connect with other businesses, being together in a registry and being pushed forward could mean longevity for everyone involved. 

“Maybe [a businesses] becomes part of the program and they get those extra five customers a month they need to stay afloat,” Torito said. “My hope is that it goes beyond achieving anything for, just necessarily us, but it really helps make Denver understand and the people in the community understand that us long term, small businesses are really vital to the success of our communities.” 

Late afternoon at Kororo, in University Hills, which has been drafted into Denver's Legacy Business Program. April 17, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

How to apply

To be in the program, businesses have to either apply or be nominated.

Businesses have to be a brick and mortar located in Denver, been in operation for at least 10 years and have a gross revenue between $30,000 to $5 million (or $10 million for manufacturers).

Lyons said another big requirement is being a community provider or a third space for residents. And that’s clear with the list that ranges from Little Man Ice Cream Factory, The Hornet Restaurant, Hooked on Colfax to Precision Kutz and Stylze, Merkato Market and Myxed Up Creations.

Tony P's Bar and Pizzeria, in Highland, has been drafted into Denver's Legacy Business Program. April 17, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

They are all places Denverites know and the city says with the program, they are hoping people continue to frequent. Kaifo and Torito said they are both looking forward to another 10 years of serving their extended family of Denverites. 

“Programs like this…that recognize how long you’ve been around … are helpful,” Kaifo said. “Small businesses have such a hard time. Mom-and-pop shops have such a hard time maintaining certain quotas, maintaining certain bills that if they're gone, they're just gone and you lose a third place that way. We just hope to be able to stay where we are and be able to serve the community as best we can.”

Here's the full list of businesses in the Denver Legacy Businesses program:

  • A Small Print Shop LLC
  • Ace Eat Serve
  • Aerial Cirque Over Denver
  • Athmar Mart
  • Bernwood Custom Design LLC
  • British Bulldog
  • Campus Cycles
  • ColeFusion Fitness
  • The Colorado Tent Company
  • Courtesy Auto
  • Dazzle
  • Denver Fencing Center
  • Econo Emissions & Auto Services Inc.
  • El Tamarindo Restaurant
  • Endorphin
  • Goldie x Bob Hair Salon
  • Great Divide Brewing Company
  • Green Door Fitness
  • Homer Reed Ltd.
  • Hooked on Colfax
  • Hops & Pie
  • Ink Monstr
  • Kokoro Restaurant
  • Little Man Ice Cream Factory
  • Legends Kuts & Styles
  • Los Molinos Restaurant
  • Lucero's Mexican Food
  • Merkato Market
  • Mexico City Restaurant & Lounge
  • Mile High Spirits
  • Mobiletopia LLC/ Boost
  • Myxed Up Creations
  • ONE Yoga Denver
  • Our Mutual Friend Brewing
  • Precision Kutz and Stylze
  • Ragin’ Hog BBQ
  • Rockmount Ranch Wear Mfg. Co.
  • Saigon Terrace
  • Salon Joa
  • Shish Kabob Grill
  • St. Kilian’s Cheese Shop
  • Stadium Inn
  • The Hornet Restaurant
  • The Monkey Barrel
  • Tony P’s
  • Truong An Gifts Inc.
  • Winning Coiffures
  • The Word Bibles, Gifts & Music
  • Yan Jing Supply Inc

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