Bars

Denver's First Sober Bar Closes Temporarily While It Looks for a New Location

An event night at Awake
An event night at Awake Jaclyn Church
Awake, which became Denver's first sober bar when it opened at 2240 North Clay Street last May, will go into hibernation as its owners look for a new location. The bar will temporarily close after August 21.

The concept operates as a coffee shop by day and an alcohol-free bar by night. Co-owner Billy Wynne says he and his wife, Christy, decided to open the shops a few years into their sober journey because "we wanted to contribute to the alcohol-free movement and create a space in Denver where people can come have fun, feel safe and have some tasty beverages."

The couple's idea resonated with many others. "The community response was truly incredible, so warm and loving," Wynne notes. "After we opened, we were jam-packed, and we received hundreds of messages across social media and emails about how this space was life-changing." The bar didn't just attract attention here in Colorado; people from all over the country and world started inquiring about opening up their own Awake locations. The Wynnes have completed a franchising program and obtained the legal documents necessary to expand, but they want to focus on their primary location first.
Awake owners Billy and Christy Wynne.
Awake

Even with this overwhelming support, the business struggled to create a model that would sustain itself long-term. As first-time bar owners, the Wynnes increasingly pushed their capabilities and are now looking for support. "Things were getting more complex, and we were having to confront that more regularly," Wynne admits. "We also have other professional pursuits in the family that we juggle. So we are looking for some more expertise and capital to partner with to really make this all it can be."

Additionally, the space Awake operates in now has some limitations and is relatively small for the growing enterprise. There is little room for full events, such as live music, and the kitchen has limited room and can only produce a small menu. Furthermore, there is no dedicated parking, and street parking is limited.

"There was kind of a wide range of issues and combination of things that led us to think this is a good time to take a step back and take a breath," Wynne explains. "We want to see, for one thing, if some other folks can come to the table and help us out so we can discover the best next steps."

The couple hopes to come back with an even bigger and better bar. They aim to have a bigger space to house more community-oriented events and private events in a separate space. "We'd like to have this be a more wellness-oriented space, so that there are more healthy food and drink options beyond just what you'd find at a bar," Wynne adds. "We're thinking about doing programs during the day that broaden the community, which would always be alcohol-free, so we can open up some new channels into mindful living and experiences."

Awake's new location has not been pinned down yet, but the owners hope it will be in Denver, though they aren't opposed to considering other opportunities. There is no concrete deadline for reopening, but the Wynnes aim to be operational again by January 2023. Until Awake closes, its entire bar menu and bottle shop will be 40 percent off.

Awake will be open at 2240 North Clay Street through August 21. Current hours are 7 a.m. to noon Monday and Tuesday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit awakedenver.com.
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