After 59 years serving sauerbraten, Hungarian goulash, streusel and other German delicacies first in Black Hawk and most recently in Nederland, the Black Forest Restaurant is closing. Wilhelm (Bill) Lorenz is calling it a career and retiring.
Lorenz moved to Colorado from Germany in 1957.
He worked as a waiter and wine steward at the Brown Palace Hotel, but he had a dream of owning his own restaurant. He started scouting locations in the mountains.
It took over a year, but Lorenz found a spot in Black Hawk and the Black Forest Inn was born. The restaurant started with just eight tables in one dining room.
As Lorenz started building his business, he would occasionally stop at a bar in nearby Central City. There he met a young woman. Kathryn (Kay) was working for the summer at the Teller House as a waitress. After meeting Bill, she came back to Colorado for a second summer and ended up with a husband.
The two worked together to expand the Black Forest Inn. Over the next 40+ years, the restaurant expanded to a beer garden, seven dining rooms and a casino. And their family expanded to include five children.
When the casino closed in 2000, so did the restaurant. However, fans of Lorenz’s German food didn’t have to wait long to satisfy their cravings. Lorenz opened the second version of his restaurant just a few months later in Nederland.
For 17 more years, Lorenz cooked his German specialties and wild game, including duck and goose, in Nederland.
But after decades of building his dream, after growing his restaurant from eight tables to a location that can serve 250+ people, it’s time for the next chapter in his life. This weekend, the Black Forest Restaurant will serve its final meals. When the refrigerators, freezer and pantry are empty, the restaurant will close. A new owner is expected to take over next Wednesday.
Messages and well wishes are already pouring in on the restaurant’s Facebook.
“I was there when Bill and Kay Lorenz first opened the doors in Black Hawk, the original Black Forest Inn,” James Collins wrote. “The tens of thousands of people from all over coming up to the Opera or just for a mountain drive, who stopped to enjoy some real German food and drink.”
“How sad to see you go,” Jerry Powers wrote. “Had some wonderful times in both locations over the many years.”
“Oh my word, this feels like losing another piece of the family. You guys have been there since I was a child,” Bette Lacey wrote.
You can share your memories on the restaurant’s Facebook page.