restrictions forcing bars and clubs to close and no federal relief in sight, Denver's beloved venues keep calling it quits. The latest casualty is Tooey's Off Colfax
, a divey bar at 1521 Marion Street that hosted eclectic shows, soul nights, art events, wedding receptions, birthday parties and other memorable activities. The spot was a regular watering hole for aging punks, service-industry workers who'd go there for the good deals, and pretty much anybody looking for an unpretentious place to drink and chat with strangers.
"Well, 2020 has been a real crap year," posted owner Alissa Eastman on Facebook. "I am sad to announce that Tooey's Off Colfax did not survive the pandemic. I am so thankful for all of the relationships that have come from this place... the amazing staff that I have had the pleasure of working with, our awesome customers who became friends and regulars who are like family."
In 2014, after the Craft Brewers Conference. industry players had a drink at Tooey's.
Tooey's demise follows those of Bowman's Vinyl & Lounge
, 3 Kings Tavern
, El Chapultepec
, Live @ Jack's
and La Cour
. And other venues, from the hi-dive to the Oriental Theater, have signaled that their future is uncertain; although some CARES Act money
was recently distributed, it's far from enough.
Chris Zacher, head of Levitt Pavilion
and co-captain of the Colorado chapter of the National Independent Venue Association
, has warned for months that without federal relief, independent clubs would be closing. And while he believes there is some hope of Congress passing aid in the not-too-distant future, in the meantime the local music scene is losing some of its best spots.
Tooey's opened in 2008 without a sign; it was a secret speakeasy. Over the years, the secret got out. Some nights, it was a mellow spot for a quiet drink; other nights, it hosted raucous parties.
A menagerie of ceramic figurines atop the photo booth at Tooey's.
"Tooey's is the sort of place where people can go hard on any given day of the week — or keep things calm and play a little pool or relax in a secluded booth, or anything in between — and not be judged for their choices," wrote Sarah McGill in Westword
The bar plans to throw a send-off party sometime in January, if it's able to reopen for a farewell event. Meanwhile, patrons are already showing up on social media to remember the spot.
"This wasn't just a bar, but a home for some, a safe place to party and 4 walls to create unforgettable memories," posted Eastman. "I love you all! To present and past employees: I love each and every one of you. You have touched so many people's lives in so many ways. You are, and will forever be, FAMILY. I love you."