M&D's Cafe, an iconic Denver restaurant, closes after more than thirty years

MandDsclosed.jpg
Lori Midson
While we were ushering in the New Year with friends, family and booze, several Denver restaurants were closing their doors. Over the weekend, Pearl Street Grill, India's Pearl and OTOTO all shuttered; after fifteen years in its Park Meadows location, California Cafe quietly closed; and in what could be some of the saddest news we've heard since the ball dropped on New Year's Eve, yet another Denver restaurant -- one that survived for more than three decades -- served its last meal.

After 34 years, M&D's Cafe, which first surfaced in 1977, locked the doors of its expanded space at 2000 East 28th Avenue this weekend, leaving a gaping hole in the city's soul-food landscape.

M&D's, which was owned by Mack and Daisy Shead, who began their long career in the barbecue business in Texas in the 1940s, was renowned for its gospel Sundays, fried green tomatoes and catfish nuggets, peach cobbler and sweet potato pie, housemade hot links and rib slabs. In 1998, former Denver mayor Federico Pena, who at the time was serving as Secretary of Energy in Washington, D.C., was desperate for a fix, so his staff made a call and asked the Sheads if they'd fix up a lunch for the homesick politician. Pena was FedEx'd an overnight delivery.

"A 34-year family legacy -- my family -- has just shut its doors in Denver," laments Eulanda Shead, Mack and Daisy's granddaughter. "I grew up busing tables and learning family kitchen secrets at M&D's cafe, and my heart breaks at this loss."

Still, she says, "My grandparents' comfort-food legacy lives on. The things I've learned in the family restaurant business are truly transforming, and I'll always cherish those lessons. I've learned what type of person I should marry over a warm bowl of peach cobbler shared with my grandma, and I've also learned that mastering the art of wit comes best when shared over granddaddy's spicy catfish."

But while Eulanda has fond memories of M&D's -- as do thousands of others -- she's quick to point out that we need to do our part to sustain independently owned restaurants: "Support local businesses, people. Do not let community gems like M&D's go the way of the recession or lack of pockets."

And, she pleads, "Please pass this on."

Location Info

M&D's Cafe - CLOSED

2000 E. 28th Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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23 comments
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VivlianWozz
VivlianWozz

Another restaurant cliaimed to use freshmozz arella cheese,where it's dishes were actually made with economycheddar.the "fresh pasta"advertieshed on another meau tumed out to befrozen.--Agedate. ℃⊙M--a nice and free placefor younger women and older men,or older women and younger men,to interact witheach other. 

Marjyna C Williams
Marjyna C Williams

Wow I remember eating there with my parents on Sunday's I was 13yrs then Im now 43yrs live in Vegas,Nv said one day im going back to Denver to visit some people and places n YES M&D's was one od them. food was so good ima miss M&D's Catfish.

Ronnie Lott
Ronnie Lott

To be honest,  their bad karma started when they got that big city loan, took over the whole block which included throwing Mr. Howard ( Howards Liquors ) out in the street. They had pretty good food, marginal service and so on. In reality, being open that long is a blessing. Like Kapre, all good things must come to an end. Just pray for there family : )

Charlotte
Charlotte

Wow!  I used to go to M&D's all the time before they went upscale.  The hole in the wall was the best food.  I moved here from Washington, DC and it was the first best restaurant I visited in Denver.  I took all of my visiting out of town friends there.  Yes, they did have some unfriendly staff; however, I would always ask for their mother.  Mrs. Daisy was always nice and kept them in order.  She was very friendly and even made my NY girlfriend corn cakes to go with her greens.  I loved Renee, she was always very friendly and nice.

I didn't like the new place so good.   I visited twice and the food was very different.  When you mess up the catfish and the pound cake, I have to leave you alone.   Sometimes, expansion is not good for the mom and pop outfits.

Guest
Guest

M&D's will be missed. They had great food and gave back to the community. Gotta love Elsie!!! And fried green tomatoes.

Antionettetaylor
Antionettetaylor

You are the best soul food yet in denver make u feel like your downsouth somewhere you will truly be missed.May god bless you and your family for the future in whatever you decide to do.

Rshar1234
Rshar1234

I am so totally bummed, I've been going there for over 20 years and love the staff.  A special thank you to "Elsie."  It was the best bbq in Denver.

Joanne
Joanne

The last two times we ate there, our waitress hinted that a closure was imminent. We, of course, hoped that would not happen. We have enjoyed M&D's for 26 years and most definitely mourn its passing. I would also encourage Q lovers to patronize Sam Taylor's, also locally owned and also serving wonderful food. Last time we were there, our waitress admonished "Pray for us," so times may be tough there, too.

TT
TT

Notarealemail:  I don't know why you had this experience here..  but I am sure it must have been a freak incident.  I am a white male who is 29 years old and have been going to M&Ds since I was a child.. LONG before Whittier was considered a place white folk should go. Never once was I mistreated, looked at differently or made to wait for any reason, let alone the color of my skin.  They have always been nothing but kind, friendly and warm to me and anyone I have ever brought there.  M&Ds and their banana pudding will be sorely missed!

M&D's Fan
M&D's Fan

Today is a day of mourning.  While I used to eat there much more before their renovation, and thought that the food was better in the days before the renovation, I am saddened to see this great restaurant close.  Denver, stop eating the crap from Brothers' BBQ and Dave's, and start supporting true family-owned places, or risk becoming a boring city.  M&D's will be missed by me and by the many of people that I introduced it to over the years.

Colorado Shu
Colorado Shu

If we're not careful Denver, we can end up with nothing more than WalMarts and Subways lining our streets while true locally-owned and operated businesses go the way of the dinosaur.

Dave
Dave

I feel like my best friend just died. I've been going to M&D's for the last 12 years or so. There is no other place like it. They were always so friendly and the bbq was simply the best there is (in my opinion). This leaves a gaping hole in the Denver dining scene.

Notarealemail
Notarealemail

Keeping this anonymous because it could be a little inflammatory, but I moved into Whittier about 7 years ago.  We certainly weren't the only white family in the neighborhood, but we were there early enough to feel a lot of anti-gentrification sentiment when we took our kids for walks, etc.  I *love* BBQ and I was excited to try the restaurant out. The weekend we moved in I went there and no one spoke to us, so we just took a seat.

We watched for 45 minutes as the staff walked past our table ignoring us, avoiding eye contact and pretending not to hear us while we waited for someone to wait on us.  We got up and left, and even then no one said anything to us. 

I don't know if anyone else had that experience, but with the diversification of the neighborhood no restaurant can afford to turn away a customer, regardless of what they look like.

Aberlaw6
Aberlaw6

Hmmmmm. Same thing happened to me and I'm black. Sometimes it is just bad service...

longtimecoming
longtimecoming

In response to "Notarealemail": Some black people feel like we are being pushed out of our neigborhoods, so for the stares during your family walks I completely empathize with you. As not only a black person but dark skinned black female (trust me, it makes all the difference) I get those looks from any kind, all my life, anywhere I go. So I am sorry your family and you had to go through that. But trust me the customer service was terrible (to me) regardless of your color. I grew up in the Park Hill neighborhood & went to M&D's quite often for only their banana pudding. Never really liked anything else. I was never greeted by any of the long lasting workers. AKA family. Only every now & then by a random new face that I would never see again. Maybe they got fired for good customer service! Anyway, point is that it wasn't your color that made them act that way. I came quite often because they made the BEST banana pudding. My weakness. Even as a consistant, loyal customer I was never treated as a customer should be. Really only the business people were treated nice the way I saw it. I honestly, sometimes, felt like I was at a soup kitchen begging for food instead of paying the way they acted. So in a nutshell it was, in my opinion, the bad bbq chicken and absolutely terrible customer service and bad attitudes that shut this place down. Recession or not, it was bound to happen. Really sorry. But I will TRULY miss the banana pudding. On the few days they had any.... actual quote... -me: Hi, can I have a small order of banana pudding please? Order taker: we ain't got no mo-....* Just speaking the truth

Nubian60
Nubian60

     Ditto! i to am a Black-American who now resides in England. I was on line reading the Denver Post where discovered the restaurant closing. I use to live in Glenwood Springs prior to relocating to Europe. I would travel down to Denver several times a month to visit family and friends; i would regularly stop by M&D's for some down home food.

 I would sometimes call my order in, and i still would have to wait 40 min or more. They ( the staff) were aware that i traveled a great distance to patronize their eatery, but to no avail,i was consistently treated like i was at the bottom of the food chain.

 I watched as the staff grinned and fawned over the business crowd at lunch time displaying historicle sycophant behavior at massa while showing me contempt!

Solution, i am now Vegan!!!!!!

Longtimecoming
Longtimecoming

To be clear, and this is not being mean just the unfortunate truth, I am 26. I have been going there all my life. I have only seen them treat their white customers, especially the white business lunch crowd the way customers should be treated. I know this person's statement is true because it happened all the time to me. Honestly, I'm glad to know they actually treated white people the same way. I always thought they went out of their way to be nice to them. Atleast they were consistant with that....again... unfortunately this was bound to happen. They had quite a long run. I'm sure the first generation treated their customers better though.

Aceranchero
Aceranchero

I'm a 50-something white guy who went in alone one afternoon for my first, and, evidently, last visit last spring and had both a damn fine lunch and warm, friendly service. Sorry to see them go.

Notarealemaileither
Notarealemaileither

Notarealemail: Can disagree more. From the perspective of someone who's "new" to the area myself (5 years), I always felt super welcome at M&Ds. They had some of the friendlies staff around, and certain better than some genericana chain restaurant. Great small ends, sad to see it gone.

Wolflazer
Wolflazer

This is a tragedy. With Wolfe's and M&D's gone, there is essentially no where decent left in this city to get BBQ. I might just have to move back to Texas.

Aberlaw6
Aberlaw6

 try jim and nicks in northfield.

DenverDinerGirl
DenverDinerGirl

Jim n nicks is not the same as M&D's, not just food wise but management wise. At M&D's, you knew the staff was part of the family, and treated as such. Jim N Nicks is just another chain that doesn't do anything for the Denver small business dining scene. 

Lulling
Lulling

you're from Texas and you thought Wolfe's was good BBQ? That's just not right, son.

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