Louisville, CO

Historic Louisville restaurant set to close later this month

Brittany Anas

Empire Restaurant and Lounge will shut down later this month.Photo byEmpire Restaurant and Lounge

By Brittany Anas / NewsBreak Denver

(Louisville, Colo.) Empire’s retro neon sign that lights up Louisville’s historic downtown will turn off for good later this month when the restaurant and lounge serves its final meal on Feb. 25.

More than a half-century ago, the spacious restaurant on Main Street was home to Colacci’s Italian Restaurant. The Empire Lounge and Restaurant took over the space in 2008 and played a role in the renaissance of the former mining town’s historic downtown.

Today, a mix of eateries line Main Street in Old Town Louisville, including Moxie Bread Co., a bakery serving morning pastries and lunchtime sandwiches on fresh-baked bread; Zucca Italian Ristorante; Tilt Pinball and the Louisville Underground, a pinball bar and arcade; and Punch Buggy Shave Ice and more.

Empire, 816 Main St., was founded by Chef Jim Cohen and managed by his daughter, Lexi Scott, until renovations and a partial ownership change in the summer of 2019.

That summer, Denver restaurateur Chef Jeff Osaka took over the operations of the restaurant which he led through the pandemic before handing over management responsibilities earlier this year to focus on the fifth Sushi-Rama location in Broomfield.

Most recently, the 5,000-square-foot restaurant has been serving a menu inspired by New York City steakhouses in the 1980s. Menu items include deviled eggs with caviar bumps, rich oysters Rockefeller, decadent French Onion soup with a gooey layer of gruyere, as well as main dishes like steak and frites, a whole branzino, and a roasted half-chicken with a selection of shareable sides like crispy Brussels sprouts and roasted mushrooms. There’s also a menu staple, a calamari salad with miso balsamic that’s an homage to the restaurant’s founder.

The French onion soup at Empire Restaurant and Lounge in Louisville.Photo byThe Empire Restaurant and Lounge

The Empire has also been serving brunch on the weekends, with a traditional breakfast menu and some specials like egg Sardou with fried oysters and cream spinach.

The staff hopes to see longtime regulars, families and friends throughout the next week as they close out this chapter and celebrate all of the meals served over the years, according to a press release.

The iconic building, a Louisville landmark deemed historical in 2022, is available for lease or purchase by the owner.

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Brittany is a journalist in the Denver metro area with more than two decades of writing and editing experience. She covers travel, restaurants and other lifestyle topics.

Westminster, CO

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