Openings and Closings

Bardenay, an Idaho-Based Distillery-Restaurant, Pulls Out of Park Hill Plans

Bardenay, a distillery-restaurant with three locations in Idaho, had big plans for the Park Hill neighborhood, an area hungry for more eating options. But was this the right option? Bardenay had a lease on a rare commercial building at 2245 Kearney Street, and the company had obtained a liquor license, over grumblings from neighbors concerned about the size of the space (more than 230 seats), the lack of parking and the potential ill effects of a distillery in a primarily residential neighborhood.

But now Bardenay is pulling out of Park Hill. Bardenay owner Kevin Settles was unable to comment directly, but he did comfirm that plans will not be moving forward. A message on the company's website states:

For a number of reasons, including concerns with the buildings compliance with Denver’s stringent noise ordinance and the close proximity to the condominiums, Bardenay has notified the landlord at 2245 Kearney Street that we will not be moving forward with the lease. We had always intended to be compliant with all laws and regulations and would only have proceeded if we could be.

One of the reasons for Bardenay's change of plans? Those plans conflicted with the desires of many in the Park Hill neighborhood. A group called Park Hill Residents for Smart Development had posted an online petition with a set of demands for changes to Bardenay's project in order get the group's approval. The list included the following:

Bardenay for Park Hill Principles
  • A Bardenay that is no more than 125 seats – still 25% bigger than the neighborhood’s largest restaurant.
  • A Bardenay that commits to off-street parking solutions for at least 50% of its driving guests – at 236 seats, initial traffic estimates show 115+ additional cars at peak hours.
  • A Bardenay that closes by 11 pm – just like other neighborhood bars.
  • A Bardenay that donates 1% of its profit to our public Park Hill schools.
  • And a Bardenay that agrees to a mediated process for handling any disputes that arise with adjacent businesses or neighbors.
This isn't the first time a neighborhood has opposed the opening of a new restaurant or bar. In 2011, Brown Dog Pizza was denied a liquor license by the City of Denver after South Gaylord neighbors caused a ruckus. It took owners Jeff Smokevitch and Giles Flanagin a couple of years to rally, but they eventually found a home for their restaurant, now operating under the name Blue Pan Pizza in West Highland, where neighbors pack the house nightly.

The name Bardenay comes from an old sailor's term for a cocktail. But now it looks like it won't be bardenay time any time soon on Kearney Street.
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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation