DENVER — We frequently hear business owners complain about local bureaucracy, but this time is different. Many are praising the City of Denver for cutting the red tape.
In an unprecedented move, Denver will allow bars and restaurants to expand where they can legally serve alcohol and drinks during the Stanley Cup Final.
The move comes after the Colorado Avalanche's epic sweep of the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference Finals.
It's called a temporary modification of premises.
“We’ve been looking into the idea of what can we do to help these businesses thrive and give an opportunity for customers to go out and celebrate together," said Eric Escudero, spokesperson for the Denver Department of Excise and License. “And as a result of that, the City of Denver is announcing that we are going to waive a 30-day requirement for bars and restaurants who want to expand the area where they can serve alcohol. We're going to waive that for businesses that are interested in having an Avalanche watch party."
The modification would essentially allow businesses to set up serving areas and tents outside, generally in common spaces, grassy areas, or parking lots. This would expand their operations for the Stanley Cup Final.
“That just sounds like a party to me," said Gingie Fairfield, bartender and server at The Cherry Cricket Ballpark location.
“It would certainly create a lot of excitement," said Noel Hickey, owner of Celtic on Market.
Both of them said this move has the potential to bring businesses together.
“Make a little thing out front and maybe sell signature drinks that we do,” Fairfield said as possible ideas. “And then, people can go around and get signature drinks from someone else. If one bar has, you know, a piña colada as their drink, we know that and then we can do a margarita or something. And then we can all work together.”
"Absolutely,” Hickey agreed. “It creates a party zone close to the stadium where everybody can come and get their party on before the game and then get into the bars to watch the games. ... Anytime you can bring more people to lower downtown is always a good thing."
The city said after two years of lockdowns, this is something it can do to give back.
“We're always going to try to help as many people as possible,” Escudero said. “We know that we want to help our restaurants and bars, especially considering what they went through during the pandemic. And this is a golden opportunity for them to expand how much money they're making to make up for the losses they had during the pandemic. And of course, we're going to have people standing by to answer all questions so as many businesses as possible can benefit from this."
The city says it can’t guarantee all applications will be approved, but will consider all of them. To apply, click here.
“It never hurts to apply,” Escudero said. “It doesn't hurt to apply to see if you have an opportunity to do this. It’s great to see all of Denver and Colorado get excited and behind the Avalanche, and this is a great opportunity for people to gather together."
The city said businesses must also have a plan for proper safety and security if they choose to participate.
“We want to make sure it's safe and there's security in place and there's a plan for trash, so it doesn't become a negative for our city,” Escudero said. “But I would encourage businesses to also plan ahead. If this works, it would be good for businesses to start looking ahead to the Super Bowl. If the Broncos get there, we could do this again for that event.”
“I think it's a really good way to kind of bring the community together and honestly bring the bars together, too,” Fairfield said.
And it gives most fans a place to celebrate during the games, with ticket prices already into the thousands of dollars.
“Tickets are incredibly expensive, I believe, starting at $1,000 in the nosebleeds. So, this is kind of like opening day for baseball, where everybody comes downtown," Hickey said. "They want to be part of the action, but only 42,000 get to actually go to the game.”