The Matchbox celebrates its second anniversary

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This weekend, the Matchbox at 2625 Larimer is celebrating its second anniversary. When the owners first opened the bar two years ago, they made a decision to make the space available for various nonprofits. That decision has clearly paid off. The concept of "doing well by doing good," says co-owner Justin Anthony, of hosting nonprofit events, has driven more than half of the bar's traffic.

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"I would say it's driven 50 percent-plus of our traffic," notes Anthony. "We set out to be a neighborhood bar, that's for sure, but getting people in the door that wouldn't normally have exposure to this part of town or to the bar has been a great strategy.

"If you make sure you deliver them great customer service," he goes on, "and make sure they're having a good time, and you're supporting something that they care about, they want to patronize the place. If you came there for a great event, you're going to spread the word and come back again, because here's someone that cared about what we do, and I had a good time there, so I'm coming back. It's driven at least 50 percent of our business."

Over the last two years, more than two dozen nonprofits, including RMMFI, Bike Denver, Mustache for Cash and Colorado Youth at Risk, have been given free space, cash or hosted benefits at the Matchbox. Anthony says the bar's work with the community has also had an effect on the staff, "because people like to work for a place that they care about," he explains.

While the bar industry tends to have a lot of attrition, Anthony says the Matchbox still has more than 90 percent of their original staff after two years -- and that's in addition to the waiting list of people who want to work there. "People enjoy working for a company that thinks beyond just measuring every shot, how can we maximize profits, et cetera...," he observes.

Over the last two years, the Matchbox has also involved Denver-based artists, mostly from the RiNo art community, and has collaborated with local graffiti artists to do all murals. As part of this weekend's anniversary festivities, which includes live music and giveaways, the bar will be announcing a new art/patio project with local metal workers scheduled for late spring.

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