Nov 12, 2021 - Food and Drink
Why we grieve the death of Denver diners
The former home of Racines, which will become an apartment building. Photo: Alayna Alvarez/Axios
The former home of Racines, which will become an apartment building. Photo: Alayna Alvarez/Axios

The greasy spoon is a special place in Denver. (Think of the legendary Denver omelet, after all.) But sadly, it's a fading tradition.

State of the plate: Since the beginning of the pandemic, we've lost Tom's Diner, Racines, the Denver Diner and now possibly Annie's Cafe. All to development.

Why it matters: The diner is more than a place to eat; it's a humble meeting spot that draws movers and shakers as much as ordinary people.

Quick take: To explain the loss, John called his former colleague Lynn Bartels, a longtime political reporter and former secretary of state spokesperson, who was considered the dame of Racines.

Racines was a place to be seen and connect with regulars ranging from elected officials to hungover Gen Zers.

  • "I remember one day I went in for an 8am breakfast and I don't think I made it home until 10," she said. "I loved it. There's no place like it."
  • "You could see who was having breakfast and it was a good clue," she added. "I might make a phone call and say, 'I saw you having breakfast with so and so.'"

The big picture: The loss of these eateries could have ripple effects. Bartels sees a connection to the increasing polarization and animosity in politics at the state Capitol. "Not having Racines," she said, "is just another nail" in the coffin of collegiality.

What to watch: Not all is lost. A handful of diners in Denver are emerging as the new backdrops to talk and gawk.

  • Try: Breakfast King and Swift's on Santa Fe, Pete's Kitchen on Broadway and McCoy's on Federal.
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