Rita's Law No. 80: "Make a friend, buy your neighbor a drink."
Rita Price has many more where this one came from; she'll be laying down the law at her new bar, Rita's Law, which she expects to open in April at 2209 Welton Street. A Denver native and restaurant veteran who moved west to run her own establishments (most recently in San Francisco), Price recently returned to Colorado and chose Five Points as the spot to set up shop because of its history and sense of community.
Growing up in Denver, she was always told to avoid Five Points, but as an adult she learned more about what the neighborhood has meant to Denver as a whole. "I hated that there was a place in Denver that I didn't know," she explains.
Price selected the location for Rita's Law because of the building's age and character. Built in 1903, it was recently renovated after sitting vacant for several years (and before that was part of the Melbourne International Hotel & Hostel). The entire block has gotten a facelift in the past two years, with new businesses like TeaLee's Teahouse & Bookstore, Woods Boss Brewing Company, Solutions Lounge & Restaurant and Habit/Carbon Five Points opening.
The bar draws from all over Colorado for its decor, with wood panels from the Zang Mansion, doors from the Epworth United Methodist Church, light fixtures from the Nativ Hotel, a bathroom covered with vintage jazz album covers to pay tribute to the jazz legacy of Five Points, and a bar back shaped like a giant whiskey barrel lined with oak staves from Breckenridge Distillery. Sprung Construction is in charge of the buildout, including sourcing all the repurposed materials.
Price says she wants Rita's Law to blend in with the neighborhood and be a welcoming spot for everyone, not just newcomers moving into new apartments springing up along Welton Street. "It's really important for me to have a low price point," she notes. "I don't want to overtake, I just want to join in. I don't want people to walk in and think this is something fancy."
The bar owner is partnering with local businesses for some of her products, including pastries from Olive & Finch, since Rita's Law will serve coffee and espresso drinks by day, and booze from the Family Jones, Block Distilling and Woods Boss, to name a few. A large patio will hold a short school bus converted into a kitchen serving what Price calls "packed bowls": grain and pasta bowls with a variety of toppings.
Comfort and community will be important themes at Rita's Law; there will be plenty of wall outlets so that guests can plug in and work during the day. And at night, Price wants to implement a 9 p.m. toast "as a cheers to everyone around — to take a moment to acknowledge that you're part of a community."
Price's father and grandfather were both in the service industry; she says her dad had a rule of his own that he used as advice: Don't go into the restaurant business.
That's one you won't find in the book of Rita's Law — much to the advantage of this corner of Five Points.
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