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Wood: Region loses iconic restaurants

It’s not all due to COVID-19, but the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado continue to lose some iconic restaurants.

Just in recent weeks, several area establishments have announced their closures, with some attributing the decision — at least in part — to the pandemic.

In Lafayette, Cannon Mine Coffee closed after almost three decades, according to a Facebook post by the owners.

“The first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on us from which we haven’t recovered,” the post said. “We’re hopeful that we’ll return in some shape or form in the years to come. We believe anything is possible when you have the love, commitment, and care of a community like Cannon Mine’s — the people who have laughed, danced, chatted, sang, or shared a coffee here — all the while becoming significant parts of each other’s lives.”

In Loveland, Origins Wine Bar & Wood Fired Pizza announced its closure “until further notice,” according to a March 5 Facebook post.

“Since COVID, we have struggled greatly with finding reliable and trainable kitchen staff,” the post stated. “Yesterday, two of our only three cooks decided to not come into work for the evening.  We had no choice other than to close to the public on a usual busy Saturday night.  This frequent occurrence has left us short staffed on many shifts, and it is quite unfair to those employees who do report to work regularly.

“In light of these unforeseen circumstances, we are choosing to close the restaurant until further notice due to the inability to procure enough labor to provide the high level of service that you have come to expect the past eight years.  We hope that this pause in operations will allow us to evaluate our next steps and determine the right path with the limited labor pool in our community.”

The Empire Lounge & Restaurant in Louisville also closed, effective Feb. 25, though the owners did not cite COVID.

Other losses in the past year or so include:

• Canino’s Italian Restaurant, at 613 S. College Ave. in Fort Collins, closed in December after almost five decades.

• Pobre Pancho’s Mexican restaurant in Fort Collins closed last year after more than 50 years.

• Frank’s Chophouse closed in Boulder in October.

One persistent problem for restaurants — and a lingering effect of the pandemic — is attracting and retaining a workforce. According to the 2023 Colorado Business Economic Outlook report by the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business, and as reported for BizWest by reporter Dallas Heltzell, the restaurant industry continued to struggle in 2022 “to regain its lost workforce and recoup revenue losses in the face of skyrocketing inflation and continued supply-chain disruptions. Technology and its use in both on- and off-premises dining is also changing the way restaurants operate — and the way they hire.”

Businesses in all industries survived the pandemic in large part because of federal stimulus programs, including the Paycheck Protection Program. But, as the first quarter of 2023 nears its end, those funds are largely exhausted. Many restaurants are forced to limit hours of operation due to labor shortages, and it has an effect.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. B&B Pickle Barrel, which closed in Fort Collins in August 2022, is set to reopen under new ownership March 15.

“We are thrilled to be a part of the next chapter of the Pickle Barrel,” restaurateur Mike Falco said in a press statement. “As Fort Collins small business owners, we deeply love this community and are excited to bring back a restaurant that has meant so much to so many in the area.”

Fort Collins and Windsor staple Austin’s American Grill expanded into downtown Greeley. Fusco Pizza opened last fall in the former home of Right Coast Pizza at 811 Eighth St. in downtown Greeley.

New restaurants are opening all the time. And while it will be fun to explore the new offerings, some old favorites are gone for good, and will be missed.

Christopher Wood can be reached at 303-630-1942 or

Source: BizWest