Wednesday, March 29, 2006

RIP, Walnut Cafe

One of my coworkers just came back from lunch and told us that the Walnut Cafe is closing for good today at 2 PM. I'm going to stop by there on my way home for lunch and say goodbye to the servers there. I wish I'd known; I would have gone to breakfast yesterday there with Dan so he could have ordered either a breakfast burrito with sausage or a ham and cheddar omlette, home fries and wheat toast (those are seriously the only two things he ever orders there). I probably would have had a veggie omlette, fresh fruit with no bananas, and pancakes.

The Walnut is our neighborhood breakfast place. The food is terrific, the service is great (the same servers have been working there since I moved to Denver, and since we've gone there so frequently they KNOW us and hardly ever even give us menus), and it's only two blocks from our apartment. We've gone there so many times and I've tried most things on the menu not involving red meat. They grind their own coffee, bake their own quiches and banana bread, and serve really good food at a decent price.

We were sitting in the Walnut waiting to hear about news of Petra's needle fiasco and the server gave us some "walnut dollars" so our meal would be cheaper. We've taken every out of town guest to breakfast there. We've spent many a Sunday morning in companionable silence, reading the newspaper and waiting for our order. We've witnessed interesting altercations on the street (it's at the corner of Colfax and Logan, kitty corner from the big cathedral) and at least one car accident. We've seen people bring their brand new babies in to show off the products of their hugely pregnant bellies just weeks before. I will miss being able to roll out of bed, put on some clothes (sans bra, of course) and some sunglasses, and schlep two blocks just in time to miss the after-church rush at 10 AM. I will miss the smile that my favorite server always has on her face, and her cute costumes at halloween, and her fairy tattoo. She collects magnets from other places, and requested (and received) a magnet from China.

Man, this makes me so sad. I wonder where those girls are going to work now. I hope they find another neighborhood breakfast place and a new set of regulars. I really do wonder why this place is closing; they're always busy for breakfast and lunch. RIP Walnut Cafe, and may something just as good take your place at that corner.

ETA: Stopping in there was so sad. I gave one of the servers a hug; I could tell she had been crying. She said that the restaurant is closing because the rent has been consistently raised hundreds of dollars a month for the past year and the owner of the restaurant couldn't afford the rent anymore, despite the success of the business. That's a huge shame, because it means that probably very little else will be able to afford rent there either - and it'll just sit empty. Stupid retail landlords.


Monkey McWearingChaps said...

I'm sorry. Before I got to the end of your post I figured with the profit margins on restaurants being so low + rents going up everywhere that it's probably what drove them out of business. It's a yoooge problem in most parts of L.A.

I hate hate hate when a cute, make-everything-fresh, privately owned business has to close up shop. And a good breakfast place can be hard to find.

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

Or, as often happens, a franchise operation retail store (like a Gap) will move in because they have the power to negotiate lower rents for attracting business to the area based on their brand appeal (I think they call it "flagshipping" a neighbourhood or mall). Or they can afford the higher rents altogether and anticipate a good profit margin.

It happened all over the down and out parts of Boston where the rents were still going up and the businesses couldn't keep up-most notably Central and Davis Square, which if you visitd when you were in Boston...looked NOTHING in the 90s like they do now. On one hand...yeah, it helped revitalise two crappier neighbourhoods. OTOH, they also lost some of their more indvidualistic charm. And the original inhabitants got squeezed out and all as rents skyrocketed.

MLE said...

The thing is, that particular area (and that particular space) can't really support a business that could afford a much-higher rent. It's not a very large space, and any bar or upscale eatery would have to be REALLY upscale in order to turn a large-enough profit to afford that kind of rent on that small a space. And the clientele in the neighborhood just isn't at that income level. There's already a couple of upscale eateries with liquor licences on that block, and they both have much more square footage than this place does. I also can't imagine any retail space (chain-wise) that could fit in there and make that much of a profit, either.

Dan said...

Aw, crap. This is just...I mean...jeezus...this sucks so bad...god-fucking-dammit!

Now what are we going to do?

MLE said...

I know, when I heard about it I was so sad, and going in there almost made me cry. They had a camera crew documenting the last hour or something (they close at 2). The server we got the magnet for wasn't in there; I hope we see her around the neighborhood sometime so we can say goodbye to her too.

-qir said...

Late on the wagon, but MEH! I'm so sad this place is closing. I remember when you first discovered it, and I was looking forward to visiting there sometime.