40 West Arts District Board Chair and Executive Director for the Lakewood West Colfax Business Improvement District Bill Marino remembers Joe Margotte never being empty handed when Margotte would …
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40 West Arts District Board Chair and Executive Director for the Lakewood West Colfax Business Improvement District Bill Marino remembers Joe Margotte never being empty handed when Margotte would visit him. Margotte brought Marino a block of provolone cheese, an Italian scarf, a hat with an Italian emblem and more when he would visit. Margotte was Italian, and he took pride in his heritage.
“Between (the cheese) and Italian scarf, he actually brought me an Italian flag and said, `You need to put this on your wall.’ He knew that I was half Italian, and he wanted to make sure that my Italian side would bubble to the top,” said Marino. “Joe was outspoken, he was very Italian, and he had strong opinions. It was always easy to know where Joe stood. He had the biggest heart of anybody I ever met.”
Margotte took just as much pride in the community he lived in as he did of his Italian heritage and his Chicago roots. The long time Lakewood resident, Lakewood advocate and owner of the Chicago Style Beef and Dogs restaurant on West Colfax passed away at the age of 88 on Nov. 22. He leaves behind his wife Luanne Margotte, two daughters, two sons, 12 grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren and two great, great grandchildren.
Margotte grew up on the west side of Chicago and first came out to Colorado in 1964. During the 1970s, he cofounded the Italian restaurant Joey’s on West Colfax, but moved back to Chicago in 1979. He talked Luanne into moving back to Colorado with him in 1995, and during the summer of 1997, he opened up Chicago Style Beef and Dogs at 8590 W. Colfax. Margotte said he opened up the restaurant on impulse in a 2018 interview with the Lakewood Sentinel. The restaurant moved into its current location at 6680 W. Colfax in 2002 and was inducted into the Vienna Beef Hot Dog Hall of Fame in 2015.
“(Chicago Style Beef and Dogs) was his life. In the beginning, he was there almost every day,” said Luanne. “He was always cooking and coming up with new ideas.”
Outside of his restaurant, Margotte wanted Lakewood to be a thriving community, particularly along West Colfax. He attended or watched every Lakewood City Council meeting for years, participated in the West Colfax Community Association and was a board member of the Green Mountain Community Association. Marino said Margotte was involved in the very beginning when the Lakewood West Colfax Business Improvement District was created. Margotte was the very first donor to the nonprofit that would become the 40 West Arts District.
“I want to see (West Colfax) come back, because I saw it in its heyday. Back in the 1960s, it was very popular,” Margotte said in the 2018 interview with the Lakewood Sentinel. “It was a very vibrant street, and a lot of people, especially the young people, don’t understand that. I’ve always said the chicken before the egg theory. With all this new building, and all the people that are moving into the area, maybe we’ll get some potential businesses here.”
Other adventures during Margotte’s life included time as a member of the West Metro Fire Board from 2009 to 2014. Margotte was also a member of Lakewood Elks Lodge #1777 for over 15 years and spent time as a board member for the Elks Lodge. In 2016, he earned the West Colfax LEGEND award from the West Colfax Community Association.
On Saturday nights, Margotte and Luanne would go to the Lakewood Elks Lodge #1777 to dance the night away. Every time the Chicago Cubs were in town, Margotte would be at the game cheering on the Cubs.
“He knew everybody. People would come into the restaurant, and he would learn all about them,” said Luanne. “He went to the grocery store, and he knew everybody there. He was there for me all the time. We helped each other all the time and took care of each other.”
Luanne recalled how Margotte would direct people to The Action Center human-services nonprofit who were in need of assistance. His heart and compassion for others is something Marino will remember him for.
“Joe was an icon. I think he is the kind of guy that walks the talk,” said Marino. “He dedicated his life to what he believed in. He believed in the Lakewood community, he believed in West Colfax, and he put his heart and actions behind that. He would help people just because they needed it. It didn’t need to have a civic connection.”
“Joe was one of a kind, and the world needs more Joes. We can all learn a lesson from Joe Margotte for his capacity to care and his energy for engagement,” Marino added. “We’re all a little better, because he was here.”
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