One of the more unique landlord-tenant relationships in Denver has come to an end.
The owner of Ace Eat Serve, a restaurant serving Asian cuisine with a modern twist, has bought the property it sits on in Uptown from its former landlord, the Denver Housing Authority.
The 9,079-square-foot building on a 0.29-acre lot at 501 E. 17th Ave. was built in 1931. Owner Josh Wolkon purchased it in late June for $5 million, or about $551 a square foot.
Ace Eat Serve has operated at the property for a decade.
“It wasn’t an intention. We actually just re-signed, recently, a five-year extension on our lease. So mentally speaking, we had full intention of being there for at least another five and hopefully more than that. But they came to us and asked if we’d be interested in purchasing it,” Wolkon said.
Keo Frazier, a spokesperson for the DHA, said the property was a “one-off” for the organization. DHA purchased the building in early 1982 with the intention of converting it into affordable housing.
The building was used as an auto repair shop prior to Ace. Frazier wasn’t able to explain why the property was never used for housing purposes and how DHA ended up leasing the property to the restaurant in the first place.
The purchase is the latest in a series of moves made by Wolkon to restructure his restaurant holdings. He’s spent time during the pandemic downsizing and consolidating his business, going from four restaurants to just two: Ace and Stueben’s, which is next door.
“Community and philanthropy have been a huge, huge part in taking care of our staff. It’s a lot easier to do when you have two restaurants side-by-side than when you try to manage a large restaurant group,” Wolkon said.
The Vesta space has since turned into a gay bar. The Arvada Stueben’s is currently available for lease by Wolkon. The 5,725-square-foot building at 7355 Ralston Road was built in 1989 and is being marketed at $26 per square foot.