Five Denver Bars Temporarily Closed in Five Weeks Over COVID Safety

The Boogie Down Bar, 5115 Morrison Road, was temporarily closed by the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment over alleged COVID-19 safety violations. It reopened on January 12.
The Boogie Down Bar, 5115 Morrison Road, was temporarily closed by the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment over alleged COVID-19 safety violations. It reopened on January 12. Google Maps
The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment has gotten tougher lately on local businesses that fail to follow COVID-19 safety protocols. Over the past five weeks, the DDPHE temporarily closed five bars in the city — all of which have now been allowed to reopen — as part of enforcement efforts as the city worked to qualify for the State of Colorado's 5-Star program, which would allow for an easing of capacity restrictions at restaurants and other businesses.

According to DDPHE data, the department has issued temporary closure orders against 25 businesses or facilities dating back to the pandemic's start, including twelve since October. To date, 23 of the operations have reopened.

The overall number of businesses hit with citations, warnings or other actions now totals 269, including fifteen in 2021 to date. Placards were given to the sites that faced either partial or total closure orders.

"If a business is closed," explains DDPHE spokesperson Tammy Vigil, "the business must submit a mitigation plan to be reviewed by the department in order to reopen. The department will review the mitigation plan and provide written approval to reopen when the plan is approved."

There's no specific timeline for action. "These plans are reviewed in the order that they are received," says Vigil. "A mitigation plan may be denied by the department, or the business may be asked to address deficiencies in the mitigation plan and resubmit to the department."

Here's the breakdown of the department's COVID-related activities since the pandemic began:

Total contacts: 17,841
Mask-related contacts only: 3,823
Warnings to-date: 16,054
Mask-related warnings only: 2,821
Citations: 269
Placards: 25
Reopening: 23 
Most of the citations involved general violations, or GV. The businesses cited so far in 2021 include a Popeye's in Green Valley Ranch ("Two kitchen staff standing within 6 ft. with masks below their chin"), Rickenbaugh Cadillac ("4 employees without face coverings"), Machete Tequila ("4 staff not properly wearing face coverings while within 6 ft. of each other talking") and CrossFit Verve at 3545 Larimer Street ("15 people not wearing masks in a group fitness class indoors. Had previous orders issued on 7/30").

The five bars that were temporarily closed over the past five weeks are the Dam Grille, at 8000 East Quincy Avenue; the Thirsty Lion, at 1605 Wynkoop Street; the Boogie Down Bar, at 5115 Morrison Road; the South Broadway Country Club, at 2265 South Broadway; and the Squeeze Inn, at 5395 West 48th Avenue. The last watering hole was the most recent to reopen, unlocking its doors again on January 16, five days after being shuttered.

Here are all 25 businesses that received temporary closure orders since the start of the pandemic, as outlined by the DDPHE:

1. 1/8/21 Squeeze Inn (5395 W 48th Ave.) 15 people without masks mingling/standing in tent. Bartender without mask serving. At least 4 patrons walking through bar without masks on, 3rd GV given, placarded 1/11/21. (Reopened 1/16/21)

2. 1/2/2021 Boogie Down Bar (5115 Morrison Rd.) 32 patrons actively drinking indoors, employee with no face covering, and patrons sitting at bar where drinks are prepared. Similar observation were seen on 1/1/2021 by DPD. Placard and full closure. (Reopened on 1/12)

3. 12/26/2020 Thirsty Lion (1605 Wynkoop St.) Dining structure closed on all side. Facility not able to make adjustments to structure to be classified as outdoors. Placard outdoor tent. (Reopened 12/28/2020)

4. 12/19/2020 Reivers (1085 S. Gaylord) Patio fully sat and nearly fully enclosed. Received orders, a GV and now a second GV and closure of the patio. Still open for takeout and delivery. (Reopened 12/23/2020)

5. 12/12/2020 Dam Grille (8000 E. Quincy Ave.) 14 patrons observed dining indoors, closure, and placard. (Reopened 12/18/2020)

6. 12/10/2020 South Broadway Country Club (2265 S. Broadway) Patrons consuming alcohol indoors. Closure and placard. (Reopened 12/13/2020)

7. 12/5/2020, PHO And Bar (1600 E. 17th Ave.) Outdoor patio completely covers up. Observed patrons drinking inside the restaurant Placarded and closed. (Reopened 12/15/2020)

8. 12/5/2020, La Jaula Sports Bar (1750 W. Mississippi Ave.) Facility over capacity, outdoor structure classified as indoor, mingling and no social distance/mask enforced. Placarded and closed.

9. 12/3/2020 What the Pho (1600 Champa, unit 110) Indoor dining in adjacent lobby, socially distanced, 3 tables, cooperative. Placarded and closed. (Reopened 12/9/2020)

10. 11/28/2020 Horizon Bar (3298 Hudson St.) Patrons drinking inside, pool tables in use, indoor bar open. Placard and closed on 12/2/2020. (Reopened 01/04/2021)

11. 11/13/2020 Lime Cantina (500 16th Street). Ticketed, placard, and closure for DPD evidence showing lack of face coverings, mingling, and gathering. (Reopened 1/9/2021)

12. 10/15 CoLab Apartments (1493 Osage Street) Issued orders to close gym in the apartment building after third visit with non-compliance.

13. 8/14 Nativ Hotel (1612 Wazee) Patrons in parties larger than 8 mingling and not social distancing. Previous orders/GV issued on 8/7. (Reopened 8/21/2020)

14. 8/12 Fast Performance (4650 Leyden St.) Ticketed, placard, and closure for owner and 9 out of 10 patrons not wearing a face covering while all working out in a single room. Facility previously ticketed on 8/10 for employees not wearing face coverings. (Reopened on 8/24/2020)

15. 8/8 Tetra (3039 Walnut St.) Ticketed, placard, and closure for violations of onsite consumption of smoking products, and facility did not correct orders and GV previously issued on 7/31. (Reopened on 10/3/2020)

16. 8/7 Williams Tavern (423 E. 17th Ave.) Ticketed, placard, and closure for alcohol sales after 10 p.m. No access to food after 10 p.m., patrons order drinks from bar where drinks are prepared. Patrons mingling, no social distancing, and little face covering compliance. (Reopened on 8/18/2020)

17. 8/2 Welcome Inn (3659 Chestnut Pl.) Ticketed, closure, and placard for violation of PHO, face covering order, alcohol sales after 10 p.m. (Reopened 8/19/2020)

18. 8/1 Your Mom's House (608 E. 13th Ave.) Ticketed, placards, and closure for violation of PHO and face covering order. (Reopened 8/18/2020)

19. 7/31 PT's Show Club (1601 W. Evans Ave.) Ticketed, placard, and closure for violation of PHO and orders previously issued 7/30. (Reopened 9/8/2020)

20. 7/31 PT’s Show Club (3480 S Galena St.) Ticketed, placard, and closure for violation of PHO and orders previously issued 7/25. (Reopened 9/8/2020)

21. 7/31 Zanzibar (2046 Larimer St.). Ticketed, closure and placard for 10 percent of capacity not wearing mask, no social distancing, no seating system in place, and bar operating as normal. (Reopened on 8/14/20)

22. 7/25 Urbans Air Trampoline Park (9550 E 40th Ave.) Ticketed and placard for closure for violation of PHO. (Reopened 8/27/2020)

23. 7/23 Art Hookah Lounge (1715 E. Evans Ave.) Ticketed by DDPHE GV for violation of onsite consumption of smoking products. Property placarded. (Reopened 9/22/2020)

24. 6/22 Beta Night Club (1901 Blake St.) Property placarded and boarded up. (Reopened on 8/19/2020)

25. 5/19 Be On Key Psychedelic Ripple Bar (1700 N. Logan) Ticketed and placard by DDPHE GV for on-site consumption of food. (Permanently closed, placard removed)

Click to read about the 2020-2021 Denver Department of Public Health and Environment COVID-19 safety enforcement actions.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts