DENVER (CBS4) – After 27 years of setting the standard for Denver’s restaurants, Strings is closing its doors.
Owner Tammy Cunningham has kept the restaurant opened since her husband, Noel Cunnigham, committed suicide in 2011.
But now, she said it’s time for her to reclaim her own life.
“Next for me is getting back to my coaching practice and my horse. I’m always happiest in horse s–t,” Cunningham said with a laugh, “because they’re just amazing animals and healing.”
With that in mind she announced Strings would close April 30. It was reservations only for lunch with a sign explaining there was limited food in the kitchen.
At 5 p.m., she thanked the community with cocktails then held a silent auction giving patrons a chance to take home some of the memorabilia accumulated over the course of 27 years.
But for Cunningham, the day was about remembering and sharing the stories about the place the restaurant held in patrons’ lives.
“A lot of beautiful stories. That they were proposed to here, that they were married here, that they have anniversaries here every year. That they’re sad but they’re excited for me to go on. So it’s been lovely.”
She also said the Strings legacy belongs to the staff as much as anyone.
“I can’t thank the community enough and our staff throughout the years that have made this possible. Noel and I were an integral part but they were the ones that made us look good.”
And Cunnigham has heard all those requests about menu favorites.
“We are doing a cookbook, so many people said, ‘What about the penne bagutta? What about the angel hair rustica?’ I will pass on to our next tenant some of the recipes as well. Give them a chance to remodel and come back and we’ll try to have some of their favorites on the menu.”
Another restaurant is moving into the space at 17th and Humboldt, but the deal is not finalized so Cunningham couldn’t share details just yet.
But on this day, Cunningham reflected on what it was like to be in Strings for a final day.
“It’s an up and down roller coaster — it’s bittersweet. It’s having to grieve Noel all over again because this is such a part of him. Of course we’ve both been such a part of the community so I won’t get to see (Denverites) on a daily basis but I will still be around.”
When asked if she had any final words, Cunnigham had just a few.
“Just how appreciative, and I can speak for Noel and I, about how good you’ve all been to us. We wouldn’t have been here without the customers and our staff so that you so very much. I appreciate it.”
– Written by Raetta Holdman for CBSDenver.com