Magazine Feature / People

Brothers target new eatery for South University’s restaurant row

Developers of a new restaurant called the Crimson and Gold hope DU colors do more for them than tobacco fragrance did for proprietors of the former Aroma Café.

The Aroma recently closed after less than a year in business. Now brothers Kevin and Craig Caldwell are re-launching the 2017 S. University Blvd. location into a campus-oriented restaurant they say will be DUing food right.

“We’re food-focused,” says Kevin Caldwell. “We’ll have a classic American menu: burgers, sandwiches, salads. For dinner, we’ll add steak, salmon and grilled items. We’re hoping for a mid- to late-April opening.”

The Caldwells have plenty of experience to draw from — they and a partner opened the original Brooklyn’s in a sleepy nook near the old Mile High Stadium and McNichols Arena that for years was a game-day staple for football and basketball fans.

“We had a liquor license but we were at a loss what to call it,” Craig Caldwell recalls. “The Rocky Mountain News did an article about how it was in a little Brooklyn-like area of Denver and we said, ‘Let’s call it Brooklyn’s.’”

The name not only stuck, it transferred in 1999 to a former 3.2-bar called Thirsty’s, which was lodged in a former warehouse on Auraria Parkway across from Metro State College.

“We got lucky. They built the Pepsi Center right there,” Craig Caldwell says. “Then they bought the building, leased it back and we kept the name Brooklyn’s.”

The sports bar’s staple? Burgers, which are still a pre-game favorite for Nuggets and Avalanche fans.

Ventures since then have extended to Mexico and a Caldwell-owned beach club/restaurant called Wicky’s in Playa del Carmen. The restaurant’s beach manager is Andrew Caldwell, a DU student barely a swizzle-stick short of a BSBA degree in real estate and construction management.

“He’s gonna work at Brooklyn’s for a while then take over the Crimson and Gold,” says dad Craig Caldwell.

The goal for the DU location — between the Christian Science Reading Room and the Conoco station on South University — is to serve DU as a lunch destination and become a jumping-off point for sporting events at the Ritchie Center.

“It’s a great location and we’re really excited,” Craig Caldwell says. “But we’re gonna keep it simple. We want to be the kind of place you can walk to and have a burger.”

The brothers anticipate totally renovating the site, which for years prior was a Mediterranean-style restaurant called Pita Jungle. But no hammer will swing nor saw scream until the Caldwells’ liquor license application wins approval on Feb. 19. The brothers have applied for a standard cabaret license. If awarded, the license would allow a full bar and live music but not dancing.

Kevin Caldwell says the brothers chose that category so they could have live music for special events; they do not expect to routinely provide music.

To win a cabaret license, they will have to demonstrate “neighborhood need,” provide supportive testimony from people who live or work close to the premises, and offer proof that the business “will have no adverse effect on the health, welfare or morals of the neighborhood.”

The brothers say they have already gathered petition signatures from the neighborhood and anticipate being able to obtain the license.

“We’re not gonna be a nightclub,” Craig Caldwell says. “We don’t see any problems.”

For information on license and hearing requirements, visit

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