North Denver history repeats itself at the new Sunnyside Supper Club
After a pandemic-induced food blackout at 44th and Eliot Street from the closing of that location’s previous tenant, Earnest Hall, a new restaurant is up and running at a corner where local dining establishments have operated since the 1940s.
Sunnyside Supper Club has brought back full-service dining from the walk-up “food hall” style ordering Earnest Hall featured, keeping Italian-American style favorites from years past in addition to more diversified offerings that leverage the expertise of its owner, the Mighty Hospitality Group.
Mighty is known locally and elsewhere in Colorado for such restaurants as El Jefe and Lucky Pie, as well as quick service places such as Mighty Burger and Hook and Harvest. Sunnyside’s general manager, Colorado native Jonathan Laxson, pointed to the location’s history, where the original restaurant tenant Ernie’s Lounge and Supper Club opened in 1943 in a building that once housed a Dodge dealership. The place has undergone many changes over the decades as it later became 3 Sons, Ernie’s, and then Earnest Hall before reopening as Sunnyside in mid-December.
The interior has been updated with new furniture and an airy feel to the seating, while neighbors contributed a nod to Sunnyside’s history with some period photos of family members taken at the original Ernie’s Lounge. Those are displayed next to the bar, next to a color portrait of the original guy himself, Ernie Capillupo.
But history only goes so far, and the old Elitch’s Skee-ball machines that the latter day Ernie’s once featured have disappeared into the mists of memory since being taken out in the renovation that became Earnest Hall. In their place eventually will be the Mighty Scoops ice cream bar, serving locally sourced Brix ice cream from Edgewater.
The food changes extend to the main menu too, which still features pizza—both thin crust Neapolitan style and square-cut, cheese-to-the-edges Detroit style—and North Denver standbys such as chicken Parmesan, meatball sandwiches, and fried calamari. Newer selections include mussels and fries, steak frites, pork belly macaroni and cheese, the Mighty Burger, and an appetizer lineup with choices such as broccolini and polenta.
The expanded salads selections include Sunnyside’s house-made salumi and house-made cheeses: mozzarella, smoked mozzarella, ricotta, and stracciatella.
Beyond the menu, Laxson is proud to be part of the resurrection of what residents have told him feels like an essential part of the neighborhood. After the lengthy closure due to the two-year renovation of Earnest Hall, and then its closure after the pandemic, many are nervous that the latest establishment will also go away. But while there are no guarantees in the restaurant business, Laxson already has a roadmap for expanding Sunnyside’s operating hours to seven days a week—it’s currently closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays—once he can hire enough staff.
Other possible plans call for live indoor music and special “supper club” style nights—say, a fish fry or fried chicken nights—along with garage door-style windows along the wall of the dining area facing Eliot St. Outdoor dining, last seen there during pandemic-era Earnest Hall, also could return during the summer depending on what permitting allows, Laxson said.
Sunnyside’s owners are about to broaden their footprint in North Denver, too. A new Hook and Harvest quick service, walk up location is slated to open, possibly as early as this month, in the former Bakery Four location at 3712 W. 32nd Ave., by Highland Square. Featured items include pad thai, a Greek salad with smoked salmon bowl, and a hummus bowl.