Last June, Annie’s Cafe & Bar at 3100 East Colfax Avenue celebrated 40 years in business. Next June, owner Peggy Anderson and her staff are gearing up for another celebration, albeit a bittersweet one: the building that houses the restaurant has been sold and Annie’s will close its doors for good on Sunday, June 26. “I want to use this last month to celebrate being in business for so long,” Anderson says. so great for us.”
Anderson opened Annie’s in 1981 with then co-owner Diane Williams; you can read how the couple negotiated the restaurant’s move from its original location on Colorado Boulevard (after 27 years!) to its current home on Colfax Avenue in our previous coverage. Many operators would have called it a day after almost three decades in business – already a more than respectable run – but Anderson and his team held on for another fourteen years.
“We’ve been through so many economic downturns,” the owner recalls. “I’m surprised we survived the pandemic, and I’m proud that we did. It’s kind of weird that we’re closing now.” But Anderson, who just turned seventy, says she’s ready to retire. Add to that the fact that the building has been sold and its new owners plan to open a second location there, Spice Room Neighborhood Indian Bistro, in September of this year, and Anderson is eager to shake off the stress of commercial operations. “I’m going to love erasing everything from the back of my head,” she admits. “You wake up at night wondering about food costs and when is this equipment going to fail. The pipes burst eighteen months ago and flooded. I won’t have to take care of things like that. It will be nice to have peaceful things.”
Instead of spending her days at Annie’s, Anderson says she enjoys spending time with her five grandchildren (some of whom work in the restaurant seating customers and making milkshakes). She also plans to visit family members scattered across the country. “I just want to be with people,” she confesses.
On the other hand, however, she knows that Annie’s closure will mean the end of relationships with the staff and customers she also considers family. “One of the hardest things is customer feedback,” she says. “I had a gentleman who said, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do. This is the only restaurant where I eat.’ … Our employees have been with me for so long and I will miss them very much.” She unrolls a list of milestones clients have celebrated at Annie’s over the decades: blind dates, first dates, breakups, rehearsal dinners, weddings, memorial services.
Anderson recalls a story spanning 22 years that illustrates the bond between herself, her staff and her clients: “A family came with their son on his 21st birthday. His mother came to Annie when she was pregnant. [with him]and she remembered her favorite waiter, Troy, making her a milkshake and taking her to the hospital.” At the time, Annie’s was located a few blocks from Rose Medical Center, and she notes that it was not uncommon for customers in labor to stop for a bite to eat on the way to the hospital, then send their partners back to the restaurant to pick up a post-delivery milkshake.
The family continued to frequent Annie’s, and when the son became a picky toddler (or “weird little kid,” as Anderson jokes), he didn’t like the dots on his fries. So to please her smallest customer, one of Anderson’s employees, Holly, was cutting the little boy’s fries.
“It feels good to know that we’ve been a part of the customers’ lives,” Anderson concludes.
It’s not just long-time customers who will feel the sting when Annie’s shutters close. “It runs the gamut because we’re always gaining new customers,” Anderson says. She recalls a recent group of diners lamenting that they had only recently discovered the restaurant after moving to Denver a year earlier. “They said, ‘We moved to town about a year ago, and we just found you, and now you’re going to leave. I am losing all these caring and considerate people.” She counts her staff among them and describes their relationship as very reciprocal. “I take care of them and they take care of me. …Even now, when I’m emotional, they say, ‘Come on, Peggy, we’ll take care of it. And they do.’
Anderson plans to maintain regular hours and Annie’s full menu until her final days, so if you’re a regular, there are still a few weeks left to enjoy your favorite dish and maybe even bid on a masterpiece. particular art or one of the vintage lunch boxes that line the walls (Anderson sells the collection). If you haven’t been there yet (or haven’t been recently), it’s never too late to check out an iconic restaurant. After the last huge omelette is served and the peanut butter milkshake is whipped, she looks forward to a big party for Annie’s crew.
“Life is precious,” says Anderson. “I just feel lucky to have opened a restaurant…and to have been able to close a restaurant.”
Annie’s is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday, and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday through Sunday, June 26.