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Longtime downtown Durango cafe closes after 42 years of service

Cost of building renovations, labor and staffing issues put Old Tymer’s out of business
A sign on the front door of Olde Tymer’s Cafe on the corner of 1000 Main Avenue states that business has closed its doors permanently. Jerry McBride/Durango Herald

Olde Tymer’s Cafe announced that it closed permanently earlier this month.

The Durango restaurant, which first opened in 1981, on Aug. 5 put a sign on its door that it had closed.

Facebook posts by the restaurant showed that ownership was trying to sell off the restaurant’s decorations and merchandise over the last couple weeks. There is also a white sign in the window that reads “Permanently Closed. Thank you all.”

Owner Mark Cavalli said the restaurant closed because of building renovations costs, labor and staffing issues. He also said the restaurant lost much of its original clientele.

“It's got some big problems inside this week that need to get taken care of, like the floors need to be remodeled. The floors are rotting a little bit, the hood vents are too small, and the swamp coolers are too small to keep it cool in the summer,” Cavalli said.

Since taking over the business in November 2021, Cavalli estimates that he invested $50,000 into the restaurant, including a new $8,000 awning and new gas lines.

Cavalli made it clear he wasn’t passing blame onto the building owners, as it is the responsibility of the tenant to keep the place up inside the building, saying that the building was just aging after years of use.

Inflationary costs and increased labor costs also hurt the restaurant, but Cavalli said his employees deserved to be paid a lot more than just $13 per hour.

“I couldn’t keep looking at grown adults and tell them to try and live off that,” he said.

Olde Tymer’s Cafe on the corner of 1000 Main Avenue has closed its doors permanently. Jerry McBride/Durango Herald

He said restaurant costs skyrocketed 60% because of inflation.

“It wasn't a surprise that business closed, but it's really sad because that business has been in downtown for decades,” said Business Improvement District Executive Director Tim Walsworth.

Walsworth said he had been following Olde Tymers’ social media posts, and it appeared things weren’t going well for the last couple of months.

“Everybody's gone to Olde Tymer’s at one time or another and we're going to miss them,” he said. “Now the focus turns to OK, what business could move into that space right there at 10th and Main? That's a prime corner we'd like that not to stay empty for too long.”

Cavalli said he does plan to open another restaurant in downtown Durango, but didn’t disclose a location because he is still working out a lease.

The new restaurant will be a bistro that will serve some of Olde Tymer’s favorites, such as burgers, zucchini sticks and fish n’ chips. However, Cavalli said that he would like separate the new restaurant from Olde Tymer’s.

“I'm calling it affordable elegance at the Bistro, where everything is going to look really nice, the plates are going to look really nice, the food is going to be really good. But it's going to be affordable,” he said. “It's going to be a place where for $20 to $25, you can get a nice meal and a beer or a glass of wine.”

Cavalli said that Olde Tymer’s meant a great deal to Durango and to him.

“My family and I tried and gave our best. We even sank our own personal paychecks into the business,” he said, “but it was time to let the old girl go.”


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