Boulder’s Covid-19 Business Obituary

Honoring Boulder’s closed businesses

By Tatyana Sharpton Aug 12 2020

For better or for worse, 2020 has changed everybody’s lives. The unforeseen Covid-19 pandemic wiped out millions of jobs nationally, catalyzing the biggest unemployment peak since the Great Depression and calling for Congress’s approve of a historic $700 billion to help save small businesses.

Data from a study by researchers at University of Illinois, Harvard Business School, Harvard University and the University of Chicago suggests at least two percent of U.S. small businesses have died and three percent of restaurants  have closed permanently.

Back in April, Boulder’s Bobby Stuckey, co-owner of Frasca Hospitality Group, predicted that a third of Boulder restaurants could shutter by September. Sadly, we have begun to see this happen — though luckily not quite so extreme. BLDRfly decided to put together an obituary for businesses passed, and will continue updating it as we become aware of the local businesses shutting down during the pandemic.

Zolo Grill

After 26 years of operation, Zolo Grill will serve its last margarita on November 25.  The Mexican restaurant, the first of Boulder restaurateur Dave Query’s Big Red F Restaurant Group, opened in 1994 and graced Boulder’s food scene with southwestern dishes, tequila and mezcal and its bright patio at 2525 Arapahoe Avenue.

Zolo Grill’s outdoor patio. Image: Diana Johnson.

Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe

One of the Hill’s iconic hubs for the last 10 years at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 13th Street, Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe announced its recent closure as of September 27. When Brian Buckley and Kate Hunter opened the bookstore in 2010, it was only the third poetry bookstore in all of the US, according to a recent Innisfree Instagram post, and since then has attracted hundreds of poets, coffee and tea lovers, students and Boulderites. Rest in peace, Innisfree.

Images: Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe’s Instagram.


The chic women’s clothing store that graced Pearl Street’s east end and served Boulder for over 15 years has announced that starting in October, it will transition exclusively to online. Its brick-and-mortar storefront shut its doors permanently on September 23, but luckily Chelsea Boulder will live on digitally!

BRU handbuilt ales & eats

Started in a garage in 2012 with a home-brewing obsession, BRU gastropub served everything from pizza to charcuterie and confit pork at its 5290 Arapahoe Ave location for seven years. BRU, you will be missed.

We’ll miss BRU’s beer flights. Image:

Bulldog Yoga

Gracing the corner of Pearl Street and 9th since February of 2018,  and always with a bowl of dog biscuits for four-legged friends, Boulder’s Bulldog Yoga did not survive Covid-19’s strike. R.I.P! The yoga studio still has two locations open, but Pennsylvania is a bit far.

Bulldog Yoga. Images: Bulldog Yoga Boulder’s Instagram.

Riffs Urban Fare

Born out of Chef John Platt’s creative approach to cooking, Riffs Urban Fare served artisan dishes for nine years before closing due to Covid-19. Rest in peace and riff on!

Featuring Riffs’ grilled avocado. Image: Riffs Urban Fare’s Instagram.

The Med, Via Perla, Brasserie Ten Ten

The Med served as one of Boulder’s few Mediterranean restaurants since 1993 and ran its own bakery from its Greek island-inspired space. Boulder’s French restaurant Brasserie Ten Ten opened in 2003 with classic bistro dishes and chocolat pot de creme, and its sister concept Via Perla launched in 2016 serving high-end Italian. All three restaurants, run by one owner, closed permanently this June.

The Med, Boulder. Image: The Med.

Heifer and the Hen

Boulder’s well-known ice cream shop located at 5290 Arapahoe Avenue, Heifer and the Hen, was previously owned by the same owner as BRU handbuilt ales & eats who had actually set it to close last year until a new owner purchased it in August 2019. Sadly, Covid-19 pushed the ice creamery into permanent closure this April. R.I.P, Heifer and the Hen — thank you for all your delicious treats.

Image collection via Heifer and the Hen’s Instagram.

Laugh-Lines Comedy Club

Boulder’s newest New York-style comedy club, based on a packed room and intimate setting, opened its Boulder hub at 1739 Pearl Street in January and was just picking up when Covid-19 struck. Though they quickly pivoted to an offshoot, Laugh-Lines Comedy Cafe, in response to the pandemic, serving a joke with every meal, the business unfortunately did not make it and closed at the end of June.

Image: Laugh-Lines Comedy Club’s website. Image: Laugh-Lines Comedy Club.

Tahona Tequila Bistro

One of Boulder’s beloved Mexican restaurants, Tahona Tequila Bistro, which focused on locally-grown ingredients and showcased arguably Boulder’s biggest selection of tequila — not to mention prime happy hour location on Pearl Street Mall — sadly did not survive Covid’s economic impact. R.I.P. Tahona Marg.

Image: sourced locally, photographer unknown.

Pekoe Sip House — Steelyards

While the company that owned Pekoe Sip House, a local chain of three cafes for over 20 years sold after the initial Covid shutdowns, the new owners do not plan to reopen the Steelyards location. Its Alpine and CU campus locations will re-open again to serve tea, boba and coffee to Boulder once more, but a new cafe will soon grace 2500 30th St #100 where Pekoe’s Steelyards location once stood.

Images: sourced locally, photographers unknown.

Header Image: Brasserie Ten Ten, from its homepage. Image: Brasserie Ten Ten.