Another longtime bar and restaurant is closing its doors in downtown Colorado Springs.
The Ritz Grill, a popular and stylish gathering place for power lunches, late-evening cocktails and live music, will close Saturday night. The restaurant opened in 1987 at 15 S. Tejon St., in the heart of downtown.
Owner Concept Restaurants of Colorado Springs plans to replace the Ritz with another restaurant. Concept partners Dave Lux and Luke Travins, however, said Tuesday they won't discuss details for a few more weeks.
Concept includes MacKenzie's Chop House, Jose Muldoon's and Flatiron's American Bar & Grill. While Concept owned the Ritz, Lux said he and Travins will join with investors on the new restaurant and hope to have it open within the next several months.
"We're looking forward to changing it," Lux said. "After 30 years, it's kind of crazy."
Change always has been on the menu at Concept Restaurants. It has remodeled Jose Muldoon's three times over the more than 40 years it has been in businesses on Tejon Street, Lux said; Concept also opened a second Jose's on the Springs' east side six years ago. And J. Maurice Finn's, Finn's Seafood and Beckett's Brewhouse all preceded MacKenzie's at its location on Tejon.
"It's not like we haven't done it before," Lux said. He added, however, "it's always tough to let something go that's been around for 30 years, that's for sure."
The Ritz joins Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom, which closed in July 2016 after 33 years downtown. In March, Southside Johnny's closed after nearly 15 years.
Old Chicago and Southside Johnny's cited rising rents for their closings. In the Ritz's case, a combination of factors played into Concept's decision.
Financially, the Ritz did well at lunch and dinner, Travins said. But bar sales after 9 p.m. have fallen off probably 50 percent to 60 percent over the last two years, he said.
"That was really a thriving part of our business for two decades," Travins said.
Concept's research also suggests nightclubs have declined in popularity in cities the size of Colorado Springs; the Ritz's live music and DJs on Fridays and Saturdays had made it a hot place to go at one time, Travins said.
New restaurants and entertainment concepts - including brewpubs and their broad selections of craft beers and pub food - also pose new competition for traditional restaurants and watering holes such as the Ritz, he said.
At the same time, millennials are looking for new places to go and have different spending habits, Travins said.
Known for its art deco interior, wraparound bar and comfy booths, the Ritz was frequented by businesspeople, politicians, local residents and tourists. Its bistro-style menu featured burgers, steaks, sandwiches, pasta bowls and salads, while signature martinis were among its popular drinks.
"It's definitely going to pull on everyone's heartstrings," Travins said. "Any place that's open 30 years in a downtown business district is going to be missed. The stories of all the employees who have gone on to different things, all the customers who have been loyal for 30 years. The Ritz Grill really touched a lot of people in this community for generation after generation. Probably every mayor, every council person, (county) commissioner has been in the Ritz at some point."
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said he had lunch at the Ritz maybe a half-dozen times a year.
"With very rare exceptions, restaurants do have life cycles, and most of them have to retool themselves every once in a while, and I think this is what's going on here," Suthers said. "While I'm always sad to see a longtime fixture close, I think that's pretty much the nature of things in the restaurant business."
Laurel Prudhomme, a spokeswoman for the Downtown Partnership advocacy group, echoed Suthers' comments.
"It's part of the life cycle of a downtown to see things come and go," she said. "We have to look forward to the cool things down the road and say goodbye to a longtime staple of our downtown scene."
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