Just last summer, American Grind co-owners Jared Schwartz, Kade Gianinetti, and Chad Michael George (who also own the Way Back) were ecstatic to be transitioning their sustainable burger brand from a stall at Avanti Food & Beverage into a real-deal brick-and-mortar restaurant in the Speer neighborhood. The cheery, family-friendly spot opened in August next door to the second outpost of Uncle, Tommy Lee’s popular ramen joint, which was sure to be perpetually packed (which it is); American Grind stood to benefit from overflow customers waiting for a table at Uncle, as those patient people settled in at American Grind with a beer. But that’s not how it played out.

“We were bleeding money,” Schwartz says, “and business never quite picked up. We had some incredible regulars—even customers from Avanti who came all the way over there to support us, which warmed our hearts—but there weren’t enough people to make it work.” On December 20, with sales in a slump, expenses on the rise, and facing a dinner service down a bartender because one had quit earlier in the day, Schwartz and Gianinetti decided to close the doors for good. They hung a sign on the door claiming closure due to equipment issues, but the truth is that they were walking away from the space. 

Just a week prior, American Grind had quietly taken over the walk-up kitchen window in the back of American Bonded, which is Sean Kenyon, Lisa Vedovelli, and Justin Anthony’s craft cocktail bar on Larimer Street in RiNo. “We’d planned to have two American Grind locations,” Schwartz says, “and hoped that the capitol coming in from RiNo would help keep Speer open. It only lasted a week.” The kitchen staff from the Speer location moved to RiNo, where almost all of the brick-and-mortar menu is available. Which means quarter-pound burgers made from locally sourced beef, from-scratch condiments, and some of the best fries in town can now be a part of the larger American Bonded cocktail experience. “We are really excited [to have American Grind at American Bonded] and feel it’s a perfect match,” Anthony says.

“We’re proud that we took American Grind from a food truck to Avanti to a brick-and-mortar,” Schwartz says. “It was a huge step forward for us. But now we’re at [American] Bonded—the names go pretty well together—and are continuing with our same suppliers and the same local focus we’ve always had.” The team is looking for other bar opportunities for the concept, as well. 

In other words, American Grind may be downsizing, but it’s not out.

American Grind at American Bonded, 2706 Larimer St. Open daily; weekdays, 4 p.m.–2 a.m. and weekends, noon to 2 a.m.

Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen is 5280’s former food editor. She oversaw all of 5280’s food-related coverage from October 2016 to March 2021.