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Departure’s excellent banh mi (is no more). Photo by Sarah Boyum

Departure Denver Restaurant & Lounge Closes in Cherry Creek

The modern Asian bar and restaurant—a 5280 25 Best Restaurant in 2018—will hopefully find a new home elsewhere in the city.

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It is the end of a great—and too short—era: After nearly two and a half years, Departure Denver Restaurant & Lounge served its final meal in Cherry Creek last night. Over the next two weeks, the space, located in the Halcyon Hotel, will become a breakfast, lunch, and dinner spot whose name and focus is yet to be announced.

Last fall, Departure paired down its slick travel aesthetic with a remodel that did away with the imposing white airplane tailpiece hanging above the bar, among other cosmetic changes. The hope was to downplay its bar scene and focus on the top-notch modern Asian cuisine created by executive chef Khamla Vongsakoun (in collaboration with culinary director Gregory Gourdet and sous chef Taylor Stark). The team rolled out a new menu, reintroduced lunch, and earned a spot on 5280’s 25 Best Restaurants list. Since then, the dining room has been buzzing, especially in the evenings, so its closure does not appear to be a case of “not making it” in Cherry Creek.

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Sage Hospitality, which just today confirmed the sale of the Halcyon Hotel, kept the transaction—and the restaurant closure—very quiet. But good news: Sage Restaurant Group (a separate entity from the hotel group) is actively seeking a new Mile High City home for Departure, a concept they brought to Denver from Portland in 2016. And many faces at the forthcoming restaurant adjacent to the lobby of the Halcyon Hotel will be familiar, as much of the Departure staff is staying on there.

“We thank the Denver community for their loyal patronage over the past three years,” Brent Berkowitz, chief operating officer of Sage Restaurant Group, said in a press release. “Although an end, it is also the beginning of a new chapter – there are many exciting opportunities in the works.”

Note: If you still have an unused Departure gift card, it can be redeemed at any Sage Restaurant Group location nationwide, including Departure’s flagship location in Portland.

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