As the self-proclaimed “Granddaddy of LoDo,” Wazee Supper Club has been a downtown Denver staple since 1974 (and, incidentally, a favorite watering hole for 5280’s editors, although for slightly less time). But as the areas around Union Station and Larimer Square have evolved into trendy dining destinations, the landmark American eatery has faced increasing competition for diners’ attention. Yesterday, it was announced that three of Wazee’s owners, Dan, John, and Mike Shipp of Roadhouse Hospitality Group, have sold their stake in the building to the team behind Bar Dough, Señor Bear, and Highland Tap and Burger. By the end of the year, after more than four decades in business and serving the likes of former President Barack Obama, Wazee will close its doors.
As sad as that is, the building has a bright future. Come early 2018, Culinary Creative Group’s Juan Padro, Max Mackissock, and Katie O’Shea will open a brand new concept, Morin, in the restored building. The modern French restaurant, named after Mackissock’s mother, aims to stay faithful to the legacy of its predecessor. “It’s important to maintain the integrity and the history of the city,” Padro says. “And while Wazee Supper Club was a part of that, we can still maintain the character of the building.” To do it the right way, the Morin team has partnered with the other owner of the building, Denver developer and preservationist Charlie Woolley. Together, they will ensure that the new installment complements Denver’s hip vibe while preserving a certain nostalgia.
Morin will follow the French “bistronomy” movement, honoring the precise techniques of Michelin-star French chefs delivered in a more relaxed atmosphere. Mackissock plans to serve classic French cuisine for lunch, but innovative, more contemporary fare at dinner. “It’s really in line with who we are as a business,” Padro says. “Elegant meets fun.”
Morin is scheduled to open in spring 2018. In the meantime, be sure to swing by Wazee Supper Club for one (or more) last beers and plates of wings, toasting the Denver icon before it shutters for good.