Pearl Street Grill, OTOTO and India's Pearl all close on South Pearl Street

ototoclosed.jpg
Lori Midson
Jesus, it's only day three of the new year, and already, in the span of one weekend, three restaurants have shuttered on South Pearl Street. After 29 years, the venerable Pearl Street Grill locked its doors after service on Friday night, India's Pearl stopped slinging curries after New Year's Eve service, and OTOTO closed yesterday. That's a lot of action in just one block.

The owner of India's Pearl was visibly distraught on Friday when I stopped in after one last beer at Pearl Street Grill -- so distraught, in fact, that she refused to give her name. "I don't want my name to be mentioned, because I don't want to be associated with failure," she said, adding that the restaurant, which opened in 2008 in a space that has been home to many restaurants over the years -- including the original Lola and the original Sushi Den -- wasn't generating enough income to pay the bills. "We weren't making ends meet, and it was a crappy year that kept getting crappier as it went on."

But that's not all I gleaned while offering my condolences. The street was already buzzing with rumors surrounding the future of Pearl Street Grill and the trio of Den Corner restaurants: the flagship Sushi Den, OTOTO and Izakaya Den, all of which are umbrella'd under Hiro & Company, which is owned by Yasu and Toshi Kizaki.

Tyler Vorenkamp, Pearl Street Grill's general manager, divulged late last week that the Grill will be reopening in another restaurant space on South Pearl Street with a new name and concept. And there will be spaces available, because Ototo, which underwent both a concept and name change (from Den Deli) within a year of opening, is definitely no more. "The third restaurant of Hiro & Company will close indefinitely in order for the group to focus on future expansion plans," says Ellen Marchman, who handles the restaurant group's public relations efforts. "In order to move forward with 2012 expansion plans, OTOTO has closed, but details aren't finalized as to what the OTOTO space will become."

But for starters, Sushi Den, which long ago moved into the corner spot directly next door to Pearl Street Grill, is definitely expanding...into the Grill's vacated square footage. "The priority for Toshi and Yasu is to streamline operations to maintain the high level of quality of food and service, and the space next door was an ideal opportunity," explains Marchman.

It's already shaping up to be an interesting year for at least one Denver restaurant row.

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Sonnic14
Sonnic14

Izakaya is moving to where PSG used to be in a year. And Izakaya will become some brewing company. Sushi Den will become one giant restaurant. Its too bad the owners of Sushi Den closed Ototo without notice to they're employees w/o notice and left them with no job. Shows what kind of people they are!

Ejlark
Ejlark

Not the case.  Izakaya Den will be moving not closing.  And all employees were invited to apply at either Sushi Den or Izakaya Den.

best of luck to all
best of luck to all

I hope new things (new....not just more 'dens') fill in the vacated spaces soon. I live in the neighborhood and really enjoyed India's Pearl. Never was much of a fan of Pearl St Grill but they must have been doing something right to make it 29 years. I think a pub that more closely resembles a pub than an overpriced, mediocre restaurant would do well on Pearl Street. Hope the rumor about Pajama Baking isn't true. Love their breads and often go there for ice cream in warmer months. It's got to be a tough time for those independent restaurants and shops, but I hope they make it through.

Molly Judson
Molly Judson

And what about Stella's? I would go into a deep mourning if we lost that gem. So many memories. I'll hope they survive this latest carnage.

Aubseric
Aubseric

What's next? Will they be knocked down to make room for Sushi Den parking?

Peter
Peter

I guess Denver is not ready for high quality Indian food, done in Bistro style. Most surviving Indian food restaurants do buffet and a few of them do really well (Jewel of India, Yak & Yeti, India's). NYC and Chicago have some non-buffet successful Indian restaurants but those cities have substantially more Indian population and perhaps a little bit more willingness to spend money on better decor, professional service and clean restrooms (all of which generally are absent from buffet style restaurants).

May I suggest that another factor which prohibits people to drive over there and support these restaurants is Parking (lack of it). It is almost impossible to find an unrestricted spot after 6 pm within a couple of blocks. Same thing at 32nd & Lowell; extremely difficult to park there as well. Next restaurant row to may be get in trouble - LoHi. Linger, Vita and Amato are all doing Valet but when I asked the valet, none of them could show me the permit and they all regularly block front parking spaces with orange cones. On 30th, the rush was so much at Linger that the Valet were parking in the alleys - I am pretty sure that is illegal but who is towing the car on 30th! 

A little bird told me...
A little bird told me...

I liked their Thali plate when they had it for lunch. It made them stand out from other Indian restaurants. But it was soon replaced it with the buffet... guess people weren't into their Thali plate so much. Which was such a pity. The buffet was good for a while, but that didn't last either.

And they had their own parking lot - being Stella's. Just not obvious to most, I guess.

Fletch
Fletch

So, was the claim of a month long closing for India's Pearl for renovation simply a way for them to save face or something? Strange...

Morry32
Morry32

There have been rumors floating that Pajama Baking Company is also in trouble

draftycranium
draftycranium

I am sorry to hear of the closings of these places and wish the people who gave it a go more recently the best of luck, and the Grill folks success in their relocation.  I grew up right around the corner from that block in the 70's (when the school one block south was Grant Junior High School, where I landed every morning only ten minutes after rolling out of bed), and in those days the Vogue was a movie theatre still, where I saw Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet and classic films; on the corner where now sits Pajama Baking Company was once an independent convenience store where my hoodlum friends and I presented fake mom notes for cigarettes; a few doors north was the Dinner Bell Cafe, a diner where I had my first job, the proprietress chain-smoked and we ate open-faced turkey sandwiches.  Times have changed and changed again, but this one is a whollop.

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