Venue Bistro closes in Highland

Lori Midson

Earlier this year, in April, the staff from Venue, a New American restaurant in Highland, took a few days off to go on a fishing sabbatical. And now it appears that the sabbatical has turned into a permanent vacation.

See also:

- Chef and Tell with James Rugile of Venue
- James Rugile is leaving his exec-chef post at Venue to work with Frank Bonanno

We've heard rumblings for the past month that owner Holly Hartnett, a former manager at Table 6, was shuttering her restaurant, which opened in 2008, and yesterday, those predictions became a concrete reality. The doors are locked and the signage has been removed, the windows are draped with brown paper, the voice-mail mailbox is full, the website gone, and reservations are no longer being accepted on OpenTable -- all telltale signs that Venue, whose kitchen was graced by several well-known chefs, including James Rugile (now at Mizuna), is kaput.

The space, of course, is prime real estate, its enviable location smack-dab in the center of Highland, which means it's not likely to stay empty for long.

Location Info



Venue - CLOSED

3609 W. 32nd Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help

WAS IT ALL A SOCIAL EXPERIMENT? A 'WHAT WOULD YOU DO" NEWS SEGMENT"? Well, it is sad, and I wish it had a different outcome. I visited without a coupon my first 2 visits and was very pleased. I unfortunately bought 2 groupons when I saw their name pop up and had the very unfortunate timing of the owner being the server the night I went to use the groupon. I have to admit, the experience was so odd that I self-reflected that maybe there was something that I could have done differently. I would walk buy (as I am a neighbor and it is on my walking route) and think about how I should go back in without a coupon and simply support -- almost in an effort to kill her with kindness to help snap her out of her groove. I now read all of the reviews and realize that it was not me, it was her modus operandi. I was on the patio on one of those hot summer July days where the sun set very late......and people didn't go out until late. She roped off the patio at 8:35pm....and then people just lined up and she ultimately gave in and let them sit. I had a friend who was delayed at the airport so I proceeded to dine and honor the reservation. I informed her that they would arrive at 8:50pm and she responded "Do you want to take that to go, as I am closing the kitchen". Thank goodness other patrons pushed their way in to force her to keep the kitchen open and allow my friend to dine properly. I am realizing now that the coupon strategy was likely one to get cash in when they needed to pay bills and she had hoped that not everyone would actually use what they bought. Great food, great concept and a great location. Aside from needing a counter bar with seats (Like Duo) , it should have succeeded if it weren't for such odd manaagement and direction from the owner. COULD IT BE.....possibly, that we were all part of a reality TV show where they treat you poorly and monitor how people react? It just does not make sense as to why she would kill the business through exceptionally bad service.


Ditto MMDawson's remarks: good food but curious service to the point of surliness from a person I can only assume was Ms. Harnett. One night, while using a Groupon, we attempted to pay by Amex which is what we typically use for dining. We were informed that Venue didn't accept their card so we paid by Visa. 15 minutes later a couple two tables away paid via Amex. And that's the last time we visited despite being locals. 


Venue gave coupons almost since day 1. I used an OpenTable coupon within a few months of their opening, when the original chf was still there.


I'm not surprised! The owner, Holly, never paid her employees! It's no wonder her business management skills, or lack of, put her in this position.

Denver Dave
Denver Dave topcommenter

Well, I'm not sure I agree that Groupons are necessarily the kiss of death.  It depends on why the business is offering them.  It seems like the model is either a) You are new and want to get people in to try your fabulous new concept (I think this has worked for a number of places.  My first visit to El Camino was on a Groupon as I recall and they seem to be doing fine) or b) You are about to bite the dust and Groupons are your last ditch effort.  I guess we know which was the case with Venue.  My experience with Venue would correspond with others who thought the owner needed to find a new vocation.  Not the first restaurant to fail because the owner wouldn't stay in the kitchen or office.

Holly Elkins
Holly Elkins

Nope. Went there once and it was enough. Why couldn't they get it together. Food was good. Service the worst I've seen!


Soon as the Groupons start coming out you know a restaurant's days are numberd.

davebarnes topcommenter


The food was delicious.

The space was inviting.

Holly just lost control and it was her fault.


I'm frankly surprised Venue lasted as long as it did. The food was great when it opened, but the service was pretty spotty. Both the food and service then went downhill after the first year or so.


It's too bad really. Venue had such promise when it opened, but the owner never seemed to address rather simple problems, and indeed let them get much worse over time.


The owner had a reputation of being awful to her guests.  Also, they had done so many coupons, it seemed like they were doomed.  No surprises here.

Now Trending

From the Vault