The Squeaky Bean, a restaurant that has operated at 1500 Wynkoop Street for the last five years, will serve its last meal on Wednesday, June 28. It is the end of an era for a cultish spot that started in LoHi in the space that is now Señor Bear, and, in some cosmic bean way, closure of a funky loop that started right there in LoHi.
Fans of the “old” Bean fell in love with the vibe, the space, the food of chefs Max Mackissock and Blake Edmunds when the restaurant operated around the bend from the old Rosa Linda’s at 3307 Tejon Street. The kitchen in that space back then was rudimentary at best and the space needed a facelift so when the vision of managing partner Johnny Ballen didn’t match that of the landlords, Ballen closed the original Bean. That was 2011 and the former Bean was to become the Occidental until those plans were scrapped.
In June 2012, the new Squeaky Bean came back looking brand new and much more posh, sporting a stunning kitchen, and catering to the LoDo crowds in its new home. Most of the same players were there as were some of the quirks, including the shrine cocktails, boozy odes to music and movie stars who passed away. Rave reviews quickly poured in, from a flawless 4 stars from the Denver Post to a spot on the coveted Bon Appetit 50 Best New Restaurants in America, plus Eater’s Restaurant of the Eater and Chef of the Year.
In August 2013, a massive number of staffers left, including chefs Mackissock and Edmunds. Since their departure, the LoDo Bean had several chefs run the show, including Theo Adley, Chris MacGillivray (now at Señor Bear), and Darren Pusateri, most recently. Lunch service was added, Bingo brunch became a thing, the restaurant re-branded as the Squeaky Bean Farm + Table, and menus changed many times over.
Now, it is the end of the line. “It’s been an awesome ride and a great experience,” said co-owner Josh Olsen. “I have learned a whole lot and made some life long friendships with some restaurateurs in Denver but all in all it isn't viable for us to stay open. Johnny [Ballen] is the managing partner and he is the one who made the decision,” Olsen added.
So what’s with the closure of the cosmic bean loop? Earlier this month, chefs Blake Edmunds and Max Mackissock returned to the original space and opened Señor Bear. The décor is different, the menu is Latin-inspired, but the soul of the vegetable-forward, technique-driven food is so very familiar.
There is no word yet on what will become of the space that housed the Squeaky Bean 2.0.