The disruption caused by COVID-19 has brought the closing of another restaurant. Penny Quarter, the Montrose cafe and wine bar, has “closed indefinitely,” co-owner Bobby Heugel announced via social media on Sunday, May 31.
“Penny Quarter is particularly vulnerable to what’s happening,” Heugel tells CultureMap. Our model there is trying to sell more casual items at a lower price point in large quantities over an extended amount of hours. COVID-19 really hurts that business model.
“We have three employee groups: kitchen, barista staff, and bar staff. For us to support that many people at higher wages with insurance, we need the space to be busy at all times. It’s just not possible under the current circumstances.”
Heugel, a current James Beard Award finalist as the owner of Anvil Bar & Refuge, partnered with James Beard Award-winning chef Justin Yu to open Penny Quarter in August 2019; it functioned as a companion to Anvil, its sister concept next door. The duo co-own two other concepts in The Heights: Better Luck Tomorrow and Squable.
Penny Quarter, a CultureMap Tastemaker Award nominee for Bar of the Year, operated as a coffee shop in the morning and afternoon before switching to more of a wine bar in the evenings. Yu and Better Luck Tomorrow chef Natasha Douglas collaborated on a “nutritious” menu with a focus on vegan and vegetarian options. Acclaimed bartender Sarah Crowl (Coltivare) joined the project in February to fortify its cocktail offerings. Despite its short run, Heugel says he feels good about what his team created at Penny Quarter.
“We don’t feel like we missed the mark on the concept,” Heugel says. “We adjusted the menu and pushed that change creatively, but we didn’t change a whole lot about the space . . . We feel like we were opening a business that was successful and was paying its investors back.”
While Penny Quarter is gone for now, Heugel emphasizes that the closure may not be permanent. If diners once again feel comfortable sharing a space all day, it could come back. For now, Heugel says the company will utilize the space for cocktail events and as a supplement to Anvil, which is currently limited to 25-percent capacity.