Annie’s Cafe celebrates 40 years in Denver

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“It was the perfect fit,” says John Imbergamo, a longtime restaurant consultant in Denver, of the 2008 deal that saved Annie’s Cafe from total demise. Starting in 1981, Annie’s had served comfort food in a location just off Colorado Boulevard at East Eighth Avenue, but in 2007 the owner revealed that the building was to be torn down and replaced with a Marriott hotel (which was not never materialized – Trader Joe’s now holds the lot).

Unsure how to proceed, owner Peggy Anderson and then co-owner Diane Williams visited Racines, hoping to meet her owners David Racine and Lee Goodfriend, who had faced a similar situation. when a demolition clause forced this restaurant to move. 2002.

It turned out that this impromptu meeting resulted in an offer that lives on in Denver restaurant history. “It was a great story, as a group of long-time iconic restaurateurs were helping another group of long-time iconic restaurateurs,” says Imbergamo. Nearly thirty years earlier, Racine and Goodfriend had opened their first restaurant, Goodfriends, at 3100 East Colfax Avenue – but now planned to close Goodfriends due to rising food and gas prices.

“We didn’t know…” Goodfriend says, reflecting on the difficulties restaurants have faced since then. But the impending closure presented an opportunity: Racine and Goodfriend offered to let Annie take over the Goodfriends space on Colfax. “It was good to sell to two women,” Goodfriend remarks.

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Annie obtained a liquor license when moving from Colorado Boulevard to Colfax Avenue.

Molly Martin

And so Annie moved from Colorado Boulevard to Colfax in 2008, inheriting a liquor license (which Annie’s original location was missing) along with a collection of retro tin lunch boxes and lots of memories. This week, the restaurant celebrates forty years in business, a rare feat in an industry where many don’t even last a decade.

“David and I were there last month,” Goodfriend says of Annie. “It looks a bit different, but it’s fun for us to visit, plus the food is really good.”

Peggy Anderson still owns Annie’s, and her sister Mary Meggitt has run the place since it opened. It remains a favorite for all-day breakfasts, comfort food, and cocktails. “It’s nostalgic. Families grew up in these restaurants and the kids keep going,” Goodfriend recalled, referring to Annie’s as well as his own trio of now-closed Denver classics: Goodfriends, Dixons Downtown Grill and Roots. which closed in 2020 when the pandemic accelerated retirement plans and the sale of the building.

But Annie’s held on, and to celebrate its fortieth anniversary and thank regulars for their support, the restaurant is organizing an anniversary evening on Wednesday June 9, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., with appetizers and drinks offered, and live music in the evening.

“Last year was so tough. We had corned beef and cabbage coming out of our ears when we had to close on St. Patrick’s Day,” Meggitt says, recalling the restaurant’s initial closure on the 17th March 2020. But Annie pulled it off, and now staff members wear “I got my COVID-19 vaccination” buttons on their shirts instead of masks on their faces.

“We’re so grateful,” Meggitt concludes, “and we’re ready to celebrate.”

Annie’s Cafe is located at 3100 East Colfax Avenue and is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, call 303-355-8197 or go to annies-cafe.com.

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