R.I.P., Leo Goto, founder of Leo's Place

Categories: The Dish

leo goto littleton.jpg
Leo Goto at his Riverfront restaurant in 2010.
Leo Goto, a mainstay on the Denver dining scene for decades, has passed away. Goto was born in Japan but grew up in Denver, attending Smiley Junior High, East High School and the University of Denver, where he got his bachelor's and master's degrees.

He first gained prominence in the restaurant business working at the Trader Vic's in the long-gone Cosmopolitan Hotel, then opened the legendary Leo's Place downtown with partners Larry Atler and Howard Torgove in 1970. In 1976, the three partnered on the Wellshire Inn, the fine-dining restaurant they put in a lovely Tudor building on the city-owned golf course on South Colorado Boulevard.

See also:
- A closer look: Leo Goto's Riverfront
- Wellshire Inn's concessionaires on the outs with the city
- Lucile's Creole Cafe will take over Leo Goto's Riverfront space

Goto moved out of the Wellshire project a decade ago, and started focusing on a new restaurant/events center at the Riverfront facility in Littleton. But that closed abruptly in the fall of 2010.

Goto will be remembered for helping to put Denver dining on the map in the '70s. As he told Blacktie.com, what he missed about the good old days was "the face to-face communication and camaraderie. Doing business then was also about friendship."

And his many friends will miss Leo.

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Leo gave me my first job in Denver back at the Wellshire Inn back in '92.  He was a phenomenal restaurateur and host.  Denver will definitely miss him.

davebarnes topcommenter

Leo Goto will be missed.
A gentleman and restauranteur.

Denver Dave
Denver Dave topcommenter

Makes me very said because I knew Leo back all the way to Trader Vics.  He was a consummate restauranteur and a pillar of the community.  I think all the classy front of the house guys are gone (including Paul Attardi most recently).  Not many gracious hosts these days IMO just a bunch of teenagers who don't have a clue.


@Denver Dave Speaking of Paul Attardi, we had reservations in what must've been the first weekend after his departure. Whew! was he missed, is all I'll say. I'm sure they'll sort it out, but I'm giving it awhile before I try again...with so few tables and so much demand for them, it is undoubtedly a delicate dance, but one he certainly had mastered.

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