While Colorado's Level Red COVID-19 restrictions in November halted live music and indoor dining in much of Denver, the Roxy on Broadway was able to still have musicians set up near the restaurant and music venue’s doorway and play to customers seated outside for a couple of weeks. Not long after Thanksgiving, owner Paula Vrakas shut down her business temporarily.
Now, after being closed for two and a half months, the Roxy on Broadway is set to reopen again on Thursday, February 11, under new Level Yellow restrictions. Vrakas, who also owns a Roxy location in Encinitas, California, says she will once again be booking music acts Thursdays through Sundays.
“I've always said that music makes your soul smile,” Vrakas says. “It's the most important thing that we need right now. lt's been a year that we've been doing this. We’re all missing these finer things in life that we kind of took advantage of.”
While it’s tough to operate on a limited capacity because of COVID restrictions, Vrakas says that what she’s looking at more than anything is what reopening means to the community, “and what it means to the people that are coming to these shows, what it means to be able to come to brunch and listen to live music. That is what needs to come back.”
Starting in March, Vrakas says, the Roxy on Broadway will open on Tuesdays for open-mic nights, which will alternate with comedy nights, and Wine Wednesdays will return, as well.
Having to shut down a few times over the past year because of COVID restrictions and then reopening has been tough, since doing so has required adjustments, like shifting staff hours and how much she can (or can't) pay musicians. One of the biggest challenges she’s endured is the emotional letdown.
“I felt like I was always letting down the musicians and letting down my staff and letting down the guests,” she says. “People go into restaurants to get something. I was just feeling like I was always disappointing someone even though no one could control it.”
Vrakas says that every time she has to reopen the spot, she feels like she's starting from scratch, particularly since it’s fairly new, having opened in the summer of 2019. She didn't have enough time to establish a group of regulars before the pandemic restrictions and shutdowns began in March 2020.
“We don't have a crowd that always comes to see us,” Vrakas says. “We can't have our big music shows that always brought in a crowd. That's been the biggest challenge, I think, for Roxy, is just this continuous restart of a whole new thing in addition to having to do it a bunch.”
Find out more about the current schedule at the Roxy on Broadway website.