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If you’ve lived in Denver for a significant amount of time, you’ll remember when Highland was simply referred to as “Northwest Denver.” This was before the redevelopment of the Central Platte Valley saw old Victorians torn down to make way for luxury condominiums, before many of the beloved old-school Italian joints (like Pagliacci’s) shuttered, and before Bang! made its notable contribution to what is now West Highland’s flourishing dining scene.
When Bang! co-owners Jeff and Chris Oakley and Cissy Olderman announced that the beloved eatery will shutter by the month’s end, we knew we’d miss the bacon-capped meatloaf with its sweet-tangy drizzle of house-made ketchup, the comforting gumbo, and the brick-size squares of hot gingerbread with fresh whipped cream. What’s more, the neighborhood will lose one of its pioneering restaurants. When Bang! opened in 1996 on West 32nd Avenue in Highlands Square (just across from the current location it’s occupied since 2000) “you could count the number of restaurants there on one hand,” Olderman says. At the time, Cherry Creek North was Denver’s dining hub, but Bang! (along with Mead St. Station) paved the way for other spots in the developing neighborhood.
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And while change is inevitable, Bang! has managed to retain its simple charm throughout the years—no easy feat in the restaurant business. Without a doubt, the elevated comfort food, accessible wine list, cozy dining room, and whimsical back alley entrance all played a part in its success. But what truly set Bang! apart was the owners’ wholehearted dedication to the place—and that’s exactly why they’re ready to move on. “We’re all in our 50s now,” says Olderman, who left Bang! last March to spend more time with her kids. “It was a great run, and we loved it, but Jeff and Chris are still doing 50 to 60 hours a week on the line.” Simply put, it’s time to move on.
Since the trio owns the property, they’ll be leasing it out—likely to another restaurant. So while there are, in Olderman’s words, “still a few anchors” left in the neighborhood, Denverites can expect to see the continued progression of dining on West 32nd Avenue starting at the end of July.
Bonus: Bang! fans take heart, we’ve rounded up a few of the recipes the restaurant has become known for: