What’s Happening on Pearl Street?

I got an email from a friend yesterday with this link about a few restaurant closings on Pearl Street in Denver.  I had recently heard that Pearl Street Grill and OTOTO were closing.  This is big local gossip, as it is one of the most happening neighborhoods in the city.  As I read the title and saw that India’s Pearl had closed too, I was ecstatic!  A while back I mentioned India’s Pearl in a post I wrote titled Food Made With Love, Plus the Best Customer Service You’ll Find Anywhere.  No, I’m sorry to say the title of the post did not refer to India’s Pearl.  In fact, my experience there was quite the contrary.

We love to support the local restaurants in our neighborhood.

We really liked India’s Pearl until that fateful Saturday when we stopped in for lunch.  When I looked down to see a maggot (yes, I said maggot,) in my rice, my stomach turned.  The summary: the owner squished the maggot in her fingers, denying what it really was, and said it was an onion in the rice.  When we asked her to bring out other onions that resembled this onion, she brought out a brown strand of food that looked nothing like that little white wrinkled worm with a black head.  That was that, and she walked away, having just destroyed any evidence of the maggot.  There were no apologies and no compensation.  After 10 minutes the server came back, noticed I hadn’t touched my food, and casually asked if I wanted a to-go box.  Really?  When I mentioned that my appetite was, uh, gone, he said he would ask the owner if they could comp my meal.  Poor guy.  He was put in such an awkward position as he had already admitted that he too thought it was a maggot.  In the end, we walked out of the restaurant for our very last time, paying for only 1 of our 2 meals.  I wonder how much money the restaurant ultimately lost by making sure we paid them the $10 for our lunch.

And that was it!

Oddly I don’t really mind that there was a maggot in my rice.  I get it.  Things happen.  But I do believe in taking responsibility for yourself and your business.  Restaurants just don’t survive with this kind of customer service.  My desire for their demise wasn’t strictly out of malice, but out of the idea that there could be a better restaurant in that space, or one that I would actually go to now; one that could add value to our neighborhood me.  From then on, I walked my dog nearly everyday past the restaurant saying a quiet but audible “booooo” each time I passed.  I know, I’m very mature.  I was counting the days until they closed.  Don’t get me wrong– I do like to see businesses succeed, and I don’t wish failure on them; but in this case I selfishly wanted them to close to make way for something better.

My take on OTOTO:  I liked Den Deli, the restaurant it replaced.  It was a casual deli-style restaurant serving similar dishes to those that people love at the iconic Sushi Den right across the street.  While service was often lacking, and they brought along the snooty attitude from Sushi Den to this casual restaurant, I still felt like it was a great addition to the ‘hood.  If I wanted to grab a quick bite of the food we all love without making a production of it, I could do just that.  And it was a little more affordable than Sushi Den.  When it was replaced by OTOTO, yet another expensive Sushi Den-owned restaurant, it was too much.  We now had 3 Japanese-based restaurants by the same owners in one small intersection.

While I like Sushi Den, and I love Izakaya Den we need something new.

Platt Park is an old neighborhood that has maintained that cozy, neighborhood feel.  While I enjoy these restaurants, we do not need another hoity toity, break-the-bank restaurant on our street.  We need neighborhood restaurants (and no more Asian please.)  How about a rockin’ Mexican joint?  Even LoLa (now in LoHi) was a bit pricey, but they had great specials like $2 taco Mondays to support the ‘hood; and not to mention the best coin style margarita in town.  Thanks to places like Park Burger (my favorite,) Kaos Pizza, Gaia, and The Crushery (best chocolate chip cookies on Tuesdays) we have some affordable everyday spots to mix in with those other great, but expensive restaurants.  Parking is tough here.  Because of that, the restaurants need to rely on neighborhood support, so why don’t they bring in businesses that we can frequent– frequently?

Pearl Street Grill

My take on Pearl Street Grill: mediocre food at best.  And as my husband points out, the  beer is expensive for a neighborhood pub.  I think when Park Burger opened, serving the best burger in town, it ate into PSG’s business.  It’s great that they are re-opening in a new space.  They are an institution on Old South Pearl Street.  The old restaurant felt tired and outdated.  I just hope they don’t miss the boat on this one also.

As the New Year has rolled around, we’ve seen both good and bad spots come and go. Rumor has it that Pajama Baking Company is leaving too, and I hope that’s not the case.  In the time I’ve lived here, the street has gotten better and better each year.  Let’s just hope they don’t change the charm of this neighborhood by making inaccessible to those of us that live here and help keep it alive.


15 thoughts on “What’s Happening on Pearl Street?

  1. I saw that Ototo was closing tonight… bummer. Especially since ototo apparently means little brother in Japanse. And I am a little brother three times over, which makes it thrice as sad for me. We always sat at the bar, but I thought it was delicious!!!

    To shed some positive light on the neighborhood restaurant news, Park Burger is expanding! Unfortunately at the expense of the former Lil’ Guy Sporting Goods store next door, which has already shut their doors and cleared out. I do hope their expansion plans might entail a few large(r) TVs and better bar situation. Just sayin.

    I hope the rumors on PBC are not true. I love that place, even if it does take 15 minutes to get 1 croissant.

    1. Sorry, little bro. Yay for Park Burger expansion! I was thinking about it the other day– they need a bar with TVs! I wasn’t a fan of Ototo, so as you see, I’m pretty thrilled about all of the changes. On to better things… and just hoping PBC stays. They seem to always be packed.

  2. Hi,
    It’s terrible I think when local places have to close, especially if the food was really good. The sad part of a business closing is the staff that lose their jobs also, hopefully these people will find jobs elsewhere in the Industry.

    If I would of seen a maggot in my food, believe me the whole place would of known about it, and I would of been out of there ASAP. 😀

    1. Yeah, I actually never wrote a review on Yelp or anything, but I made sure to tell all my friends. Apparently 1 of those restaurants didn’t give notice to their employees (not sure which one) which is so sad. The good news… I just found out most of the closings are for restructuring, so not such a bad loss.

    1. Haha, John! We actually have a supposedly great fish and chips place a few blocks from our house. Next time we’ll take you there. Hmm… Outback, just what we need.

  3. I love a good, local cuisine. Certainly not a “greasy spoon”, but the place doesn’t have to be over the top hoity toity. I like it when the food is good, the presentation is at least respectable, and the atmosphere can range tremendously as long as it seems to give me a sense of the owner’s personal taste.
    I simply don’t believe that you were okay with the maggot. I mean… I just don’t believe it. I threw up in my lap when I read that, and I’m a dude… thus I’m supposed to me tougher than you on such issues. Right? Yeah. And she squished the wretched thing? Who does she think she is, a bloody witch!?
    I noticed that your blog seems to have calmed down a bit into something a little warmer and more manageable. Are you glad of that? Or do you miss the other?

    1. Ha! Okay– here’s the reality… no I was not okay with the maggot. However, had the owner found a way to redeem herself, I probably would have tried the restaurant again eventually, once amnesia set in. It was a pretty nice place, the food was really good, and it had a good reputation– maggots and bloody witch owners aside. 😉

      Yes, things have settled down. No more mean people, which is nice. While it is nice to not have to monitor it all day long, it was a very exciting time. In a way you want to get back to normal, and in a way you want it to keep going. It’s good though. Thanks for asking.

  4. It would appear that when I was visiting Denver a few years back, I missed a lot of dining opportunities. Actually, I had a lot of great meals in the Mile High City, Greetings from Baltimore.

  5. The rumor was that PBC was closing. I bet they were really referring to The Crushery, which closed this week. Sadness. They had great salads and the best chocolate chip cookie on Tuesdays. Did I already mention that? Anyway, Sexy Pizza is going into their space. Just what we need– another pizza place to compete with Kaos.

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