R.I.P., Leo Goto, founder of Leo's Place
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.
Leo Goto at his Riverfront restaurant in 2010.
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.
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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.