Last night, the owners of Mod Livin', the hip retail store that has slowly transformed a grimy stretch of Colfax since it opened nine years ago, met with cranky neighbors at a city-sponsored mediation session. The neighbors weren't there to praise all that Erick Roorda and Jill Warner, who own the building at 5327 East Colfax, had done to improve the area -- running off the bums and prostitutes and encouraging new businesses to move into what's become an urban oasis.
No, they wanted to complain about the Little Orange Rocket, the goumet food truck that Roorda and Warner started up this summer with Dylan Moore, their partner in Deluxe Burger, the restaurant that opened in a corner of the Mod Livin' building in February.
The cranky neighbors hate the fact that the Little Orange Rocket uses the Deluxe kitchen as a commissary, pulling up in the alley that runs alongside the building to load and unload supplies.
But here's what the neighbors really hate: That alley off Colfax is one of at least 350 private alleys in the city, and it belongs to the building.
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Which means that if Roorda and Warner wanted to block it off entirely -- turning this patch of asphalt into an outdoor cafe for Deluxe, for example -- they'd be entirely within their rights.
The neighbors, who would still have access to their portion of the alley off 16th Street (and off Grape Street -- although that, too, is technically private property), didn't like hearing that last night, and made threats about lawsuits. "It got very contentious," reports Roorda. "There will be no more going to meetings."
But there will be more Little Orange Rocket, which is booked all over town. "The food truck has really, really turned out to be a jewel," says Roorda.
Even if a few neighbors have not.