The original Cherry Cricket’s building isn’t going anywhere.
Lee Driscoll, co-CEO of the restaurant’s parent company Breckenridge-Wynkoop, said Tuesday that the structure at 2641 E. 2nd Ave. will be preserved as the remainder of its Cherry Creek site is redeveloped.
“We will keep the Cricket and build in the parking lot behind,” Driscoll said at BusinessDen’s “The Future of Cherry Creek” event Tuesday morning.
Cherry Cricket is arguably the most well-known restaurant in Cherry Creek. It opened in 1945 and moved to its current location in 1950. Breckenridge-Wynkoop bought the restaurant in 2000, added a Ballpark location in 2018 and is set to soon open a third in Littleton.
In 2015, Breckenridge-Wynkoop sold the restaurant’s property at the corner of 2nd Avenue and Clayton Street to Seattle-based Unico Properties for $13.8 million, according to public records.
Last year, the company bought the site back for $25.2 million in partnership with Denver-based development firm Alpine Investments.
“We sold it for the highest price per square foot ever in Cherry Creek, and we repurchased it for the highest price per square foot ever in Cherry Creek,” Driscoll said.
Both property deals included two parcels, which in addition to Cherry Cricket are home to a tailor, cocktail bar and the restaurant’s parking and outdoor patio.
Driscoll said the restaurant group sold and leased back all of its real estate in 2015 to help finance construction of the company’s Breckenridge Brewery facility in Littleton. The company ultimately sold the Breckenridge brand to Anheuser-Busch InBev the next year.
When Breckenridge-Wynkoop sold the Cherry Creek site, the deal included a provision that Unico couldn’t redevelop the north portion of the site until 2025 or 2026, Driscoll said.
“We wanted to be involved in the development process ourselves,” Driscoll said. “There clearly would be some pretty considerable interruption in our business during the development period and we wanted to control the timing of that as much as possible.”
Unico also knew Breckenridge-Wynkoop hoped to eventually repurchase the property, so it approached the restaurant group when it decided to list the site for sale.
Breckenridge-Wynkoop and Alpine plan to construct a new structure behind the restaurant.
“We’ve been working on a design that really kind of maximizes the value for … retail and office for the Cherry Cricket,” Driscoll said. “The old Cricket will be there with a very interesting, non-cookie cutter new building behind it.”
Alpine Investments is led by Churchill Bunn and David Pietsch III. Bunn is the son-in-law of Ed Cerkovnik, who is Breckenridge-Wynkoop’s other co-CEO, and his wife works for the company.
Bunn said keeping the Cricket building leaves a development site of about 16,000 square feet. The project is in the “very early planning stages” and Tryba Architects has been hired.
The end result will likely be a six or seven-story structure, about 80,000 square feet, with office space on the upper floors. Groundbreaking is expected in 2026.
While Cherry Creek has become increasingly high-end in recent years, Driscoll said the Cricket’s old building and classic burger concept still fits in.
“It’s a very warm and welcoming place – it’s the same feeling of Cherry Creek,” Driscoll said.
Thomas Gounley contributed reporting.