Last month, high winds knocked down the sign that hangs over the entrance of Quixote’s True Blue. Owner Jay Bianchi took that as a literal sign that he should close the Grateful Dead-centric bar and music venue. Pair that harbinger with recent COVID restrictions, and he decided to shut down the sixth home of Quixote's.
“I don't really go into business to just make money,” Bianchi says. “I go into business to experience live events and people being happy. I'm not there to watch DJs or stuff like that; I'm there for the music. That wasn't really happening, so.... We did okay for a while, but it ran out of gas, and there was no reason for me to be there.”
Until COVID hit nearly a year ago, Bianchi says, the place did great during the school year, as it was close to the University of Denver. But it wasn’t a place where he wanted to hang out, because of all the students who frequented the spot, previously the home of the Border Restaurant Lounge, Merchants Mile High Saloon and Angel's Landing.
The DU-area Quixote’s, at 2014 South University Boulevard, was the venue’s sixth incarnation since the original spot opened at 9150 East Colfax Avenue in Aurora in 1996, about a year after the death of Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia. Bianchi and his two brothers initially opened the bar to have a place where Deadheads and kindred spirits could gather after Garcia's passing.
Bianchi says the second incarnation, at 7 South Broadway (now the hi-dive), felt like a rebound girlfriend that people seemed to like, but he didn’t care for the location. He then moved Quixote’s to Five Points, next to his other venue, Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom. He sold those spots to a group of partners in 2009 and moved Quixote’s to 2151 Lawrence Street, which he thought was an epic space with its outdoor patio. But that building was sold and is now the Point 21 Urban Flats complex.
In 2012, Bianchi moved Quixote’s to 314 East 13th Avenue, the former home of Bender’s Tavern, and then closed it four years later. He says that space was awesome, but it wasn't ever the best fit. He moved the venue to the DU area three years ago and says it was the “right place but the wrong time.”
"I feel like that place had a lot of hope and potential, but it just didn't work out for me," Bianchi says. "It doesn't mean someone else can't do it. I always believe sometimes people do way better stuff than me."
A bar dubbed the Gravel Pit is slated to go into the location. This year Bianchi also sold Sancho's Broken Arrow and Be on Key Psychedelic Ripple to Tyler Bishop, who worked with Bianchi to open a new spot, So Many Roads, in the Art District on Santa Fe.
While the sixth incarnation of Quixote’s is gone, Bianchi is not going to close the chapter on the name just yet. He says he’ll eventually look for a new home for Quixote’s, but he’s not rushing into anything right now.
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