Racines at 650 Sherman St. (Provided by Racines)

Racines, a 36-year-old Denver dining institution, is saying goodbye a bit earlier than expected.

In April, Racines was one of the first coronavirus-related restaurant closures in the city, as the restaurant announced it would close in January 2021, expecting to reopen after the lockdown. But owners Lee Goodfriend and David Racine announced on Tuesday that the longtime restaurant will close permanently six months earlier than expected.

In an interview with The Denver Post, Goodfriend said she and her co-owner would both be at risk for the virus, and the task of reopening with a resurgence of COVID-19 cases was too daunting, especially since they already sold the location at 650 Sherman St.

“I never thought that our restaurant would be shut down so abruptly,” she said. “It’s sad, but there’s a lot more important problems in the world than Racines closing. I think we have to worry about all of those more than us. We’re luckier than most people.”

Racine and Lee opened three restaurants with the late Dixon Staples and David McCormick — Goodfriends in 1979, followed by Racines in 1983 and Dixon’s in 1997. In 2003, the original Racines on Bannock closed when the landlord forced them out on a demolition clause. But the restaurateurs bought their own location and reopened on Sherman Street. Most of the staff and management returned to the new Racines, and some worked there until the very end.

As she leaves the beloved restaurant after almost 40 years, Goodfriend said she’ll miss the people most. But restaurants, she said, are “a young person’s business,” and she’s ready to pass the torch to a new generation. Racines fans should go to other local businesses who need the support right now, she added.

The news release described the “famous … first dates, coming out discussions, deal negotiations, after theater parties, political confabs and family dinners” that occurred at Racines over the years.

“It’s been a tremendous amount of fun,” Goodfriend said. “It’s been an honor to own a restaurant like Racines. We’ve had all of Denver in here. I loved every minute of it. Almost every minute.”

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