Racines was founded on the basis of friendship and love for good food and is closing its doors for good after 38 years.
This transition to retirement has been in the works for a while, but it shouldn’t happen until January next year. COVID-19 quickly changed plans.
There won’t be a long goodbye for owners, employees or regular guests. That doesn’t stop owners Lee Goodfriend and David Racine from taking a moment to thank their supporters.
Goodfriend and Racine met in 1975 and have been working together ever since.
“This year we met for the first time at Zach’s restaurant on 1480 Humbolt Street. I was a bartender and Lee was a waiter, ”Racine said.
Together with a few other friends and business partners, the two opened three restaurants in the city in the following decades.
In 1979 Goodfriends opened on Colfax Avenue in Denver.
“We pledged everything we had that wasn’t so much. We put the TVs and stereo on my Sears credit card. I mortgaged my car that was paid for and we all did things like that. That’s how you did it back then, ”said Goodfriend.
In December 1983, the Racines group opened, originally located in the heart of the Golden Triangle district in Ninth and Bannock. They had a very welcoming philosophy that they were known for and that worked well in all of their locations. It was easy.
“Anyone could come into the restaurant. It didn’t matter. Construction workers, theater people, business people. We tried to create repeat customers, people who would come here more than once. I think over the years we have become successful for that, ”said Racine.
“Denver wasn’t very diverse at the time, and I’m not sure anyone even knew what a gay person was,” Goodfriend said. “We found that we were both brought up that way. To be open and inclusive, and that’s what we’ve just applied to our business. “
It’s a philosophy, they say, that has worked for 38 years.
In 2004, Racines moved to its current location at 650 Sherman Street in a building the Partners build and own near the Governor’s House and several television studios in Denver.
It remained a popular place for power lunches and after-work drinks. On a typical day, you might find politicians doing business alongside reporters meeting with sources and colleagues celebrating milestones.
There was another location along the way to complete the trio of restaurants the group of friends would own. Dixons in Lower Downtown opened in 1997.
“My favorite memory was Dixon’s during the Democratic Convention (2008). I’ve never seen the energy in the city center like this since then. The 16th Street Mall had a huge crowd and it was so neat. I’ve seen a lot of politicians and celebrities everywhere. It was one of my highlights, ”said Goodfriend.
“And the low discharged 125 people on March 16 this year,” she added, recalling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It never occurred to me that something like this could happen.
“That day David and I had been talking about whether we should stay open and we were wondering whether it would be closed for a few weeks or a few months. We never thought it would be like that. It was very interesting. It’s just gone, ”said Goodfriend.
The COVID-19 pandemic may have cut their farewell plans, but certainly not the memories.
Goodfriend and Racine talked about the shock of the past four months. They also shared uplifting stories about the good and strength that are present in the church.
Racines freezer and pantry food was donated to two local nonprofits: We Don’t Waste and SAME Café.
The sale of the Racines building is expected to close in January 2021. Until then, the partners will continue to empty the room and look for buyers for their restaurant equipment.
After that, look for Goodfriend as a volunteer at the SAME Café. Racine said he was planning an RV road trip and maybe going to see his mother until COVID-19 departs.
“I don’t think anyone could have had better guests from all walks of life than Racines, Goodfriends and Dixons. I mean it was amazing. We’re happy, happy people, ”said Goodfriend.
“It’s been a great life,” said Racine.
This story is from Rocky Mountain PBS, a nonprofit that provides news and information wirelessly and online across Colorado. Used with permission. More information and support for Rocky Mountain PBS can be found at rmpbs.org.