In January’s “Wishful Thinking,” the 5280 staff reimagined a more vibrant and exciting 16th Street Mall suitable for a “world-class” city like Denver. As someone who lives and works in the downtown area, there was a bit of selfishness imbued in the assignment; after all, I’d like to be able to drop off my dry cleaning, stock up on toilet paper, and grab some healthy food to-go within a walkable area.

Looks like the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District heard our (and others’) rallying cries. On Friday, August 29, they launched Patio 16, an outdoor dining area in the median of the 16th Street Mall between California and Stout streets. Outfitted with yellow and white tables and chairs from IKEA, the spot is split into two different sections, with six locally owned food vendors—Totally Tots, Gigi’s Cupcakes, Sons of Scullery (barbecue), Wikipita (Mediterranean), Pretzel Street, and Denver Brats & Dogs—lining the areas between and beside. Order some food and grab a seat, or bring your own snacks from a nearby establishment. Because it operates under a food court permit, Patio 16 doesn’t allow smoking or pets. Two concierges walk the area, answering questions, greeting diners, and cleaning tables. Trash bins are easily located, and two recycling bins are on order. “There are 115,000 employees and 65,000 residents downtown,” says Cord Rauba, 16th Street Marketplace manager. “We need these spaces.”

Patio 16 is open every day (except Sunday) until about 5 p.m. and will operate year-round, though the hours of operation will be more limited in the colder months. Plus, the vendors have all agreed to extend their hours to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Kids will find high chairs and tyke-sized picnic benches, plus a small assortment of toys in the public area.

If you like the idea, make sure to take a seat and use the space. Rauba says the pilot project may be expanded if it goes over well with the public.

And one more: In our January story, we also said we’d like to have access to some locally made sake. Looks like Marc Hughes’ Gaijin 24886 is fulfilling our wish.

Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer is an award-winning writer and editor based in Denver. You can find more of her work at