After seven straight years of dazzling diners with its inventive, oak-fire-kissed fare, Acorn at the Source in RiNo is putting out its flames. The closure was announced today by Half Eaten Cookie Hospitality (HECH), the restaurant group behind Acorn, Brider, and Melted in Denver and Corrida and Oak at Fourteenth in Boulder.

Bryan Dayton, HECH founder, said the following in an emailed statement:

The uncertainty this pandemic brings has forced us into making incredibly difficult decisions. I am sad to announce that we will be permanently closing Acorn at the Source today—while Melted will close temporarily. We will be taking the next 6 to 8 weeks to re-evaluate and re-conceptualize. Our plan is to open a new concept in the Acorn space by the end of October. Words cannot begin to express how grateful we are to our team, our guests, and the Denver community for their continued support over the last 7 years, especially through these challenging times. We look forward to serving you again soon.

A darling in Denver since its opening in fall 2013, Acorn began under the leadership of beverage pro Dayton and chef-partner Steven Redzikowski, who was also in charge of the culinary program at Acorn’s sibling restaurant, Oak at Fourteenth. The anchor tenant of the Source’s flagship 1880s foundry building, Acorn was edgy with its graffitied walls and open kitchen; its food was bold and on par with the best in the country, earning numerous accolades from national and local media.

In late 2017, Redzikowski stepped away from Acorn to focus solely on Oak, leaving the RiNo restaurant in the talented hands of chef Ian Palazzola, who reimagined its food menu to include Southern and Moroccan influences based on his years working at Mourad in San Francisco. Palazzola left the kitchen earlier this year, and then, of course, the novel coronavirus hit Acorn (and every restaurant everywhere) in March. 

Yet, news of Acorn’s closure feels sudden, coming on the heels of HECH’s recent expansion with Melted and just two months after the group began experimenting with ways to equalize employee pay. Did that experiment play into Dayton’s decision to close Acorn’s doors permanently? Dayton was not available for further comment today, but 5280 will report back as we learn more.

Amid the recent shuttering of other established and adored Denver restaurants, from Rialto Cafe to Vesta, a sudden closing is no longer surprising for anyone paying attention to the current struggle independent restaurants are facing. Boost them up while you can by dining out (or in) and contacting your elected officials in support of the hospitality industry-specific RESTAURANTS Act.

Patricia Kaowthumrong
Patricia Kaowthumrong
Patricia joined the 5280 staff in July 2019 and is thrilled to oversee all of the magazine’s dining coverage. Follow her food reporting adventures on Instagram @whatispattyeating.