Rosemary Cafe, a staple of Harvey Park for 30 years, permanently closed last month. The property was sold to investors soon after.
The family-style restaurant’s real estate at 2133 S. Sheridan Blvd. was sold to Hub Development, LLC for $1.8 million on May 18, according to public records. That entity is affiliated with Denver-based EXDO Group Cos.
The restaurant building itself had been listed for $1.6 million, with an additional $200,000 for FF&E and business assets. The restaurant is 5,110 square feet, so the price per square foot is about $303.
Rosemary Cafe was opened in 1992 by George Moraitis, according to the restaurant’s Facebook page. Moraitis is a managing partner of Rosemary Group Property Holdings LLC — the entity that sold the property to EXDO — along with Gerasimos “Mike” Apergis, the late owner of Breakfast King, which closed in January.
Rosemary Group paid $600,000 for the property in 1999, records show.
EXDO Chief Operating Officer Kevin Preblud told BusinessDen that the company is searching for a tenant that will use the existing building, and he’d be happy with a reboot.
“My preference would be to get somebody to continue as Rosemary Cafe. What they do with the menu, the hours, that’s going to be up to them,” Preblud said.
Preblud said he ultimately wants someone who is a “good operator.”
“We don’t want to take a chance with somebody just because they think it’s a good idea,” Preblud said. “I mean, somebody with a track record. Somebody wants to run a diner. Somebody wants to be a part of that neighborhood. That’s our goal.”
Finding a qualified and experienced operator has never been more crucial. Denver’s restaurant industry has taken a hit since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many small businesses ranging from startups to long-time family operations have closed down. Oftentimes, these establishments cite the pandemic itself as the nail in the coffin for their businesses. Other owners point to rising food prices due to inflation or a shrinking labor pool.
But for Moraitis, his reason was simple: he was getting old, and it was time to retire, he said.
For the customer’s sake, Moraitis hopes a restaurant remains at the site of the Rosemary Cafe.
“They (the customers) need a restaurant in the area,” he said.
EXDO also purchased the neighboring property, the retail strip at 2125 S. Sheridan Blvd., for $4.7 million back in July 2021.
“The goal is to bring value back to the community that lives in that area,” said Paul Cattin, a broker with NAI Shames Makovsky who helped arrange both the Rosemary Cafe and retail strip deals.