El Diablo, Sketch want you to send them off in style -- tonight!

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Have El Diablo and Sketch reached the end of the line? According to El Diablo's Facebook page, the restaurants will be closing at the end of business tonight: "Please come by and send us off in style!!!" This is the culmination -- maybe -- of a ten-month-long fight with the city, which started with the First Avenue Hotel, which houses both restaurants, being slapped with a notice to vacate last July because the building was "unsafe." And after a final hearing before the Board of Appeals last week, the city again served Jesse Morreale, owner of the First Avenue Hotel and its restaurants, with a notice that he and his businesses would have to vacate by May 3.

See also:
- First Avenue Hotel gets another notice to vacate
- Jesse Morreale's First Avenue Hotel slapped with notice to vacate
- El Diablo slapped with notice to vacate...again

Here's the message now posted on Facebook:


It is with heavy hearts that we are announcing that tonight, May 2, will be El Diablo and Sketch Food & Wine's last day of business.

This closure has nothing to do with the restaurants themselves, we have been operating safely and successfully for over 4 years. Morreale Hotels, the owner of the building, and the restaurants simply can no longer contend with what we believe has been a predetermined course by the City of Denver since July 2012 to see that the building be closed and these great restaurants be put out of business. Even though we believe it is unquestionable that the City's actions have been arbitrary and capricious, the damage that has been inflicted upon our resources and operations is too severe for us to recover from and we have no choice but to close.

We are heartbroken at this turn of events and the cost, not just to the businesses and to the community surrounding them, but to our loyal and hard-working staff that will be losing their jobs as a result.

We'd like to thank you all for the years of loyal support and patronage, and invite you to join us tonight to say goodbye to the restaurants we all love that have contributed so much to the revitalization of Broadway and were the anchor for helping to restore the once blighted 1st Ave Hotel.

We want to extend our heartfelt hanks to each and every one of you for the great memories -- we will miss you all!



Location Info

Venue

Map

El Diablo - CLOSED

101 Broadway, Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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31 comments
rawdoggin
rawdoggin

There appears to be a pattern developing here...Chama, Original Sketch, Rockbar, Sketch and El Diablo (there was also a food truck rumored a while back, I think).  The only restuarant that he was associated with that didn't fail is Mezcal, and the partners (wisely) kicked him out.  I would venture to say that if Mr. Morreale ever approaches you with a business proposition, run screaming in the opposite direction.

sporobolus
sporobolus

Morreale could have taken steps put a foundation under his claims — he could have described a reasonable motive for the city to destroy his restaurants; he could have pointed out similar corrupt manipulations by the city to establish a pattern; he could have addressed the city's claims point by point — but instead he seems to have believed broad statements and emotional appeals would shore up his case, and his building; hand-waving and denials may sometimes work to build up a business image, but they do not make a satisfactory construction plan

Morreale claims El Diablo and Sketch were "successful" which by an objective definition would mean they would have been able to meet their obligations; yet consider the bankruptcy filed to stave off foreclosure on the building; regardless of how the different businesses (building owner, tenant restaurants) are structured, they are clearly intertwined, Morreale is involved with all of them, and obligations weren't being met; the brouhaha with the city boils down to avoiding even more costs, when the finances were already in trouble; because of this i suspect the operation as a whole was simply running on air

the whole exercise seems to have been delay and obfuscation for a business arrangement that was clinging to strings; i think the clock simply ran out for Morreale


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

How many times can one restaurant die in a year?

Must be fun fun fun for the ex-ex-ex-employees.


Guest
Guest

Does journalism exist any more? For close to a year no one seems to know what was really going on with the city and Jessie Morrales. Other than the tired narrative from Mr Morales about the city out to get him, is it possible for Westword to interview a Denver employee who can comment on this? Or perhaps investigate what the terms of the loan from the city were about? Or what is wrong with the building? You know, stuff they teach you in a Journalism class?

I, like many posters here, am disappointed the restaurants are closing. We are all left to post things like "gee, that sucks". I guess we can all continue to wonder and move on to the next brilliant Westword article about '5 Dickhead Drinks' or a lazy restaurant review.

jmpmk2
jmpmk2

I'm really going to miss the 2:00am carne asada burrito adventures from the walk-up window.  Whatever was going on in the that building didn't trump the restaurant's service to the community.

ColoradoNative
ColoradoNative

Good riddens he got what was coming to him. The truth always comes out in the end. Creep still owes me money. I feel sorry for the next town he lands in- anyway hopefully he leaves this one.

bye bye

Denver Dave
Denver Dave topcommenter

No great loss if you ask me in terms of the food scene but that building has great potential - just needs an owner with deep enough pockets to get the city to play ball.  Maybe Robert Thompson can afford to take it on and make it a new Argyll since he's obviously printing money PBS.

Jarrod Schott
Jarrod Schott

Boooo.... As a Baker resident I am very disappointed that this couldn't be resolved by adults. I wonder what well-connected tenants will take over that prime space??

Terry Christensen
Terry Christensen

From western Nebraska glad I was able to eat at Sketch Sunday evening!

Scott R. Shriver
Scott R. Shriver

Ate there once. Not impressed with the food or the service. Continually wondered what the fuss was about. That area of broadway is hopping. so good luck to the next guy.

NoBoBear
NoBoBear

@Guest Well, even though I think the "Westword" coverage of this has been somewhat one-sided, in Morreale's favor, they have done an OK job.

To wit, the following story they did last  July. Doesn't talk about the loan terms, but does have a notice from the city with some of the high-level details about what Morreale did wrong. So, "Westword" has been doing actual reporting (but "Denver Business Journal" has done a better job over the last year).

http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2012/07/jesse_morreale_first_avenue_hotel_hearing.php

Morreale has had almost five years to fix the issues, documented plan in place since 2011, yet all he's done is do nothing and carp about it.

Cap_Hill_Cowboy
Cap_Hill_Cowboy

@theglobalguy Sounds like a fraternity I was in for one year back in the day. We lost our house and some of the brothers decided to get drunk and trash it while I was out of town. Classless.

NoBoBear
NoBoBear

Yeah, always had the feeling that Morreale was working under the assumption that the city would let him bend the rules since they loaned money. Feel bad for the employees, but, this was a train wreck almost a year in the making: should have been looking for an exit.

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve topcommenter

@Nick Campbell  

Hell, no!  YOU pay their legal fees.

weege0011
weege0011

That's what the city is afraid of. The house coming down.

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