After 88 years 740 S. Bonnie Bray Tavern, at University Blvd., will close later this month.
Ricky Dyer, who owns the restaurant with his cousin Michael—and whose grandparents founded it in 1934—told BusinessDen that its last day would be June 25.
He said, ‘It is a very bitter thing.
According to public records, the Dyer family sold the property in late May for $4.5 million. Also 740 S. University Blvd. The building, tavern and dry cleaner’s house, in the deal 750 S. The Wish Gifts Building was also included in University Blvd. and nearby parking lots.
The buyers were Alpine Investments led by Churchill Bunn and Revesco Properties led by Rhys Duggan. The two Denver firms said last year that they planned to work together for four apartment developments within the city.
“We are in the preliminary concept planning phase for a three-story apartment project with ground floor retail with the university,” wrote Bun in an email to the Bonnie Bray site.
The site is 0.72 acres, meaning that Duggan and Bunn paid about $144 per square foot for the land.
Carl and Sue Dyer opened the Bonnie Bray Tavern at its current location in the middle of the Depression. The business serves lunch and dinner with burgers, salads, and sandwiches, as well as a menu featuring Mexican standards and made-to-order pizza.
Ricky Dyer, 57, said it would have been 44 years working at the restaurant this August. It’s been 40 years since his cousin and co-owner Michael Dyer, he said.
Sales don’t come out of the blue. In 2019, Diers applied for and received a designation that made it easier for buildings to be demolished for a period of five years. Property owners often request that designation, now called a certificate of demolition eligibility, when they are searching for a sale and think the next owner would like to redevelop the site.
Why didn’t the building sell till last month? “We are buyer number 3,” Dyer said. “It had something to do with it.”
The first interested party was Rhode Island-based CVS Corp, which considered an on-site pharmacy before passing it on, Dyer said. The second interested buyer, who submitted development plans to the city in early 2020, was local developer Joe Jundt. Then came Ban and Duggan.
Dyer cited several reasons for the decision to sell and close, among them the building itself.
“We had an 88 year old building with 88 years old electrical and plumbing,” he said.
Dyer said the building was built to the old standards, but was told by the city that it would have to bring it up to code in the near future, which would mean installing ADA-compliant bathrooms and sprinklers in the roof, among other things. except.
Additionally, the restaurant business is “hell,” Dyer said. He said he and his cousin had to put money into the business to keep it running during COVID, and the tight labor market has made it hard to hire. Bonnie Bray Tavern had 33 employees as of December 2019. It now has nine, and Dyer said the business can’t afford the $20-an-hour wage it would take to attract more.
Dyer said Monday, June 6, was the inn’s 88th anniversary. The business did not mark the occasion; It is closed on Mondays. And Dyer said it doesn’t plan to do anything big until June 25.
“We’re just going to be open and hopefully, say thank you to Denver for helping us make this 88 years old,” he said.
When asked about the restaurant’s heyday, Dyer said that, “during the first five years of the late ’70s and early ’80s, it was an hour-long wait for dinner.” This was before Cherry Creek North was really developed, and Lodo was not a destination. The coming years gave people “much more choices”.
“We still have some great pizza,” he said.
In addition to the Bonnie Bray site, Alpine and Revesco are partnering on apartment projects at 955 Bannock St. in the Golden Triangle, 46th in Berkeley and 2000 Chestnut Place in Tennyson and Union Station North. Revesco is the planning firm for The River Mile project where the amusement park Elitch Gardens now operates.
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This story was reported by our partner BusinessDen.