Food news

Denver’s Breakfast King is permanently closed, and staff is little noticed

The king died.

Old butler, Lori Brin, confirmed that Denver’s famous Breakfast King, on the corner of South Santa Fe Drive and Mississippi Boulevard, closed its doors Monday.

Brin, who has worked at the restaurant since 1989, said, “My manager called me yesterday and told me not to come because we’re closing the store. I’m in shock. I’m 55 – I don’t want to start at another restaurant.”

Opened in 1975, the Breakfast King is often listed on local “Best Of” lists for its vintage décor, wood-paneled dining room, orange vinyl booths, and massive menu featuring Greek, Mexican, and American fare.

Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for decades, Breakfast King has significantly reduced its hours during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brin said business has been going strong in recent months, but he said a lack of supplies is making things difficult.

“It was a nightmare,” she said. “In the past week, we ran out of meat, drinks, cans of food, everything.”

Brin said hiring staff has been difficult.

“There was no one coming forward to apply,” she said. “In the past we never had to advertise. We couldn’t find chefs. We have ads on Craigslist and a ‘Hire Now’ sign in the window for the first time I can remember.”

Denver’s famous Breakfast King establishment closed its doors for good on Jan. 3 (David Gilbert, Colorado Sun)

The servers’ starting wages were just under $10 an hour plus tips, Brin said, and the chefs started at less than $20 an hour.

Breakfast King has taken out two loans from the Federal Paycheck Protection Program, according to public records. One was awarded in May 2020 for $159,739 and listed as reimbursed, and another was awarded in March 2021 for $223,632, but reimbursement status is not available. The loan data indicated that the restaurant had 22 employees.

Breakfast King has sparked outrage online in recent months with a sign hanging on the door that read: “We’re understaffed. Please be patient with the staff who showed up. Nobody wants to work anymore.”

“Add this to my list of places I should never go,” read a post in a Reddit thread about the tag that spanned over 900 comments. “Even if they took down the banner, they just announced that they’re the kind of person I’d never want to support.”

Breakfast King owners did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the closure. Tom Andrianakos, the restaurant’s accountant, confirmed the closure.

Brin said she loves working at Breakfast King.

“It was a great joy,” she said. “You have to be yourself, kidding yourself, and customers from all walks of life.”

She worked mostly days, but she said the real action happened at the cemetery shift.

“One night, this motorcycle club got into a fight with these cowboys,” she recalls. “One cowboy went outside and drove to the club president’s motorcycle – but when he drove off, he left the bumper and license plate behind. The motorcyclist gang said to the police, ‘You better find this guy before we do that.’ You just had to laugh.” .

Brian said she was saddened by the sudden closure of the restaurant.

“We knew it was a possibility, but they didn’t give us a chance to say goodbye,” she said. “We’ve had people come in almost every day for years. Some of them, we were all the family they had.”

John Coyner stopped by Castle Rock on Monday and found out that the restaurant was closed.

“I was amazed,” said Koener, who said he’s been coming to Breakfast King for more than 30 years.

Brin said it was possible that another restaurant would buy the restaurant and keep it running, but she fears selling it to the highest bidder and redeveloping it. The property is not currently offered for sale on real estate websites.

King’s breakfast tables were still set Monday morning. Server Lori Brin said the staff had closed their doors the night before, not knowing the restaurant would be closing permanently. (David Gilbert, Colorado Sun)

Denver has lost many beloved overnight diner-goers in recent years. Tom’s Diner, along East Colfax Street in Capitol Hill, where the pandemic lockdowns began in March 2020, is closed after a long battle over whether to preserve Googie’s historic architecture, a glowing mid-century modern style. 20th Street Cafe closed the same month after 74 years in the Ballpark neighborhood. Denver Diner on Speer Boulevard and West Colfax Avenue closed in January, due to increased food and labor costs and reduced traffic.

Brie Davis, who hosts the City Cast Denver podcast and has been a huge fan of Breakfast King, said losing diners in Denver means losing a piece of the city’s spirit.

“These spaces are very important for bridging the human gaps,” Davies said. “In Breakfast King, you’ll see cops sitting next to bad guys, or construction workers getting ready for their shift sitting next to someone who has been out all night to celebrate. There aren’t many places left where people of diverse economic statuses come close to each other. We take it for granted. We We are losing our community spaces. What are we going to do about it?”

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