Emil-Lene's Sirloin House, one of Denver's cow classics, shutters after more than fifty years

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Lori Midson

More than fifty years after originally staking its claim on a dirt road in the middle of rural Bumfuck Aurora, Emil-Lene's Sirloin House, one of the longest-standing cow classics in Denver, has been put out to pasture, leaving the abandoned landscape strewn with empty cardboard boxes, plastic buckets, tattered furniture, rusted pots and pans, lemons aged with mold and a three-disc Glen Miller CD, its inside powdered with dirt and dust. A "no-trespassing" sign greets cars that pull into the vacant parking lot; the interior suggests it's been neglected for weeks.

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In 2004, when then-Westword restaurant critic Jason Sheehan reviewed the rickety roadhouse, which was as famous for its cottonwood tree growing through the roof as it was for its steaks and retro relish trays, old-time spaghetti and foiled Dominoes of still-frozen butter, he described it as a "genuine throwback to the days when beef was always what was for dinner." In fact, all Sheehan lamented was the absence of "a really big steak."

But more recently, Emil-Lene's had much bigger things to worry about than the size of its slabs of beef. In late November of last year, Tri-County health department inspectors slapped the roadhouse with 21 critical violations. Fox31 Denver, which posts online summaries of health-department inspections of local restaurants -- and then assigns a grade to those inspections -- reported on November 21 that inspectors scouring the Aurora steakery "found fly strips stored over food preparation tables" and liquor bottles that were "adulterated with insects." In addition, "rodent droppings were observed" and the meat grinder was "soiled with meat."

In response to that story, owner Karen Kuchar claimed that her staff was cleaning the grinder on a daily basis. "We are very clean here; nobody has ever gotten sick from here," she said.

Whether that inspection, which generated an "F" grade from Fox31, was the final nail in the coffin, we don't know, but with the demise of Emil-Lene's, one of the city's most beloved steak houses during its heyday, comes the end of a faded era.


Location Info

Emil-Lene's Sirloin House - CLOSED

16000 E. Smith Road, Aurora, CO

Category: Restaurant


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15 comments
bearrrugg
bearrrugg

The closing of Emil-Lene's was the most serious loss in the restaurant business that Denver has experienced in my opinion.  When it was in operation I ate there several times a year and never had anything but the highest praise for it.  Where else could you get such fine steaks?  And the spaghetti (which some claim was not to their taste) was the best in this area.  Everything about the restaurant was first-rate.  As for cleanliness, I never saw any of the terrible things that have been reported--no insects in wine, no flypaper hanging over food preparation areas.


It's pretty clear that Emil-Lenes' was conspired against by a few bad apples who wanted it closed.


I wish Karen Kuchar would re-open it.  I"d be there in a minute.

TheFabulousMarkT
TheFabulousMarkT topcommenter

At least the meat grinder was only soiled with meat. You know what I'm saying? :(

meanstreetsofsouthdenver
meanstreetsofsouthdenver

I think I probably had 8-10 memorable meals there in the early '80s (my late 20s/early 30s) and then 2 or 3 increasingly poor meals there, thereafter, and then gave up on it by about 1992. Haven't been in in 20 years.  


Certainly increasing DUI awareness and enforcement made a difference--you just couldn't risk it after the laws stiffened, or alternatively staying sober for the drive home made you realize it wasn't as worth the trek as you thought it was with three drinks and about 48 ounces of porterhouse in you. I mean the spaghetti was kind of horrible, right?


I think there might have been an ownership change in there too.

John Donohoe
John Donohoe

No I did not but they never listened to me when to update it and start advertising

TheFabulousMarkT
TheFabulousMarkT topcommenter

I'm very sorry to hear this. I enjoyed my visits there. :(

LindaLee Law
LindaLee Law

I loved E millene's ! the Tree growing up in the middle of the room, the side of spaghetti the dinner with my bf, the drink the Godfather which made me love him more..sigh

joeypinter
joeypinter

I loved the place for years but about a year ago I went there and it was ?? Not Good. and I knew then that the end was close


Eric Bueno
Eric Bueno

Did you approve this John Donohoe?

James Massey
James Massey

One of the "must-do at least once" things in Denver. I loved that place.

Carri Kimbrel
Carri Kimbrel

Oh man, that's too bad! I haven't been in years but used to go quite often and loved it! Even went there for my senior prom even though it was no where near my home or the prom venue :)

JefFoF
JefFoF

Don't forget the comic, baseball bat sized pepper grinder!

davebarnes
davebarnes topcommenter

Aah, the beauty of unincorporated Adams County.

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