El Rancho reopens after getting liquor license

Deb Hurley Brobst
Posted 1/11/23

El Rancho restaurant has reopened.

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El Rancho reopens after getting liquor license


El Rancho restaurant has reopened.

The restaurant received its liquor license from Jefferson County on Jan. 13, according to Olivia Moffett, a spokeswoman for Bonanno Concepts, which is operating the restaurant. 

Denver restaurateurs Frank and Jacqueline Bonanno, who own seven restaurants in the Denver area, are operating the historic restaurant to be called El Rancho Colorado that closed abruptly last summer.

The dinner menu includes a bit of everything: comfort food, wild game, steaks, sandwiches, a touch of Mexican and things chef Frank Bonanno is having fun playing with, Moffett explained. There’s also a big salad bar.

The restaurant will be available for dinner Wednesdays through Sundays, with live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Breakfast, brunch and lunch will be added, and the brewery should be open soon.

“We will work our way to a seven-day schedule but with no real timeline,” Moffett said. “We will have to see how staffing goes.”

Moffett promises that El Rancho will look much like patrons remember with a few updates such as reupholstered chairs and more art.

“We’re put tiny new touches on it,” she said. “We’re proud of how it’s come together.”

El Rancho is celebrating its 75th year, and it’s exciting to be part of the next era of history, Moffett said, noting, “We want to do it right.”


The El Rancho restaurant opened in a log cabin in 1947. In 1953, a banquet room and gift shop were added, plus it became designated as a post office. When Interstate 70 was being built in the mid-1960s, the owners convinced the Colorado highway department to name the exit “El Rancho.”

According to Golden History Park and Museum, El Rancho is said to have the most photographed view of the Continental Divide in America.

El Rancho has had several owners over the last few decades, and the owners who bought the property in 2015 abruptly closed the restaurant this past summer after a nasty battle over the restaurant’s management.

In November, Jack and Sherry Buchanan of Evergreen with Northstar Ventures and Travis McAfoos bought the El Rancho property for $2.7 million, and they signed a lease and operating agreement with Bonanno Concepts.

Northstar Ventures will not be involved in the restaurant’s operation. Instead, it will focus on working to develop the parcel across the street from El Rancho.

El Rancho, restaurant, Bonanno Concepts, Frank Bonanno


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