Music News

What's wrong with mariachi music at Mezcal?

When Mezcal (3230 East Colfax Avenue) celebrated its fifth anniversary last month, owner Jesse Morreale booked a mariachi band as part of the festivities. He's featured live music in the restaurant before, mainly on special occasions; under his liquor license, he can do so ten times a year — as long as he gets a permit each time.

But Morreale would like to offer mariachi and flamenco bands on a more regular basis, so in October, he applied for a standard cabaret license for Mezcal, which would allow live music (but no dancing). On December 30, he talked about his plans at a joint meeting with Colfax on the Hill, South City Park and Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods, and all three groups voted to support the license application without restrictions. But that same night, Morreale also met with Congress Park Neighbors at a separate gathering, and many in that group — which opposes the license — voiced concerns about problems in the Mezcal neighborhood. Among the speakers were Berkie Harris and Charles Pejko, whose son, Jessie Harris Pejko, was slain behind the restaurant one night last summer.

Congress Park Neighbors, including Pejko's parents, repeated their complaints at a hearing Monday night before the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses. But the other three groups all presented letters of support for Morreale's application; 147 immediate neighbors had also signed a petition in favor of the license. Hearing officer Kip Barrash didn't make a ruling that night, but Morreale says he expects a decision by the end of the week.

Club scout: On New Year's Eve, the Continental Club (475 Santa Fe Drive) went out with a bang. Ryan Smith, who turned the Santa Fe Tavern into the Continental just last year — earning Best New Bar honors in the Best of Denver 2008 and bringing in a steady stream of rockabilly fans and punkers — closed the place that night. A new owner will reopen the space under a new name in a few weeks.

It was fun while it lasted.