Twenty-two years ago restaurateur Frank Bonanno opened Mizuna near the corner of Seventh and Grant on Cap Hill. Since then he has added three more restaurants next to it.
All the while he was discussing the possibility of buying the property with his landlord.
“We’ve been making offers every few years, maybe every time we renew our lease,” says Bonanno.
Hal Nyman, president of Sherman Agency, which is part of the Ownership Group, said: “He sure asked more than six times and it was always the same answer. Ownership has no plans to sell.” .
But that has changed recently. On September 16th, the owner of Bonanno Concepts purchased his three adjacent buildings that house Mizuna, Ruka, and Loose Food his bar and Vesper Lounge. Public records show that he paid his $8.6 million for the property. The property also includes a half acre of parking on the north side.
Naiman said he received an offer from a developer and gave Bonanno a virtual chance to accept it.
“They had numbers in mind,” said Bonanno. “They didn’t budge and we were able to meet their numbers. Very little negotiation took place.”
Naiman said the Naiman family and partners have owned the property for 60 years.
Last February, the group applied to the city for a certificate of fitness for demolition. This will allow for easy demolition of structures on site within five years. Notices of the application were posted in the windows of Bonanno’s restaurants, encouraging neighbors to consider promoting conservation. Naiman eventually withdrew his request in April 2021.
“I was told that most developers had to go through that process if they were going to sell it, and I recommended going through that,” says Naiman. “But we started going through it and kind of went through it without knowing the process.”
Bonanno’s restaurant is located in the area of Cap Hill known as Governor’s Park, recently purchased by a condominium developer for a large complex. One block is under construction where the Racines restaurant used to be. Another is planned for the block occupied by television station Denver7, which plans to relocate to RiNo.
Bonanno said he was relieved that the property wasn’t sold to a developer to wipe out the restaurant.
“We feel a sense of relief knowing that they will not be knocked down and will have to start from scratch,” he said. “Ever since we bought the property, developers have already spoken to us about buying the property. Because there’s a line to how much revenue you can make and whether it justifies rebuilding a new restaurant.”
“It will probably cost us $1.8 million to reopen Mizuna, and it will take up to five years to recoup that money,” said Bonanno. I want you to take care of me.”
Bonanno and his wife, Jacqueline, purchased a loan from FirstBank. He said the mortgage is higher than the rent.
“The only reason we chose him was because of the relationship we had,” Nyman said. In fact, they were stronger buyers because they didn’t have to take out a loan like Frank did. I took risks to help achieve it.”
After the sale, Naiman’s owning group paid $3.6 million for the retail building at the corner of 9th and Lincoln, half a mile away, records show.
“From a seller’s point of view, we didn’t want to pay just capital gains,” says Naiman. “We wanted him to do the 1031 Exchange, so it took him three-quarters of a year to find a property to invest in and a rental property he was happy with.”
Bonanno previously owned the property at Lou’s original location in Sunnyside, but sold it in 2017 to open a milk market downtown.
Now that Mr. and Mrs. Bonanno are landlords again, Mr. Bonanno plans to add a patio to Luca, replace the coolers in Luca and Vesper’s marshes with air conditioners, and try to close the block’s full-time streets. He also plans to monetize the parking lot, which he contracts with SpotHero to manage.
“Nothing happens overnight,” he said. “We have a three- to five-year plan and we are lucky to be able to continue with it.”