On June 8, the City of Denver announced that it is "allowing a temporary waiver of the 30-day rule for a temporary modification of premises application for Avalanche watch parties at bars and restaurants," according to the Liquor Licensing Division website.
The news came as a surprise to many bar and restaurant owners, who now have the option to go through the application process to temporarily expand into outdoor spaces before the Stanley Cup finals begin in mid-June (the exact date of the series' start depends on when the Eastern Conference Finals end). While the requirement to apply thirty days in advance has been waived, the application process still includes inspection requirements and a security and trash plan, as well as fees, which means that not every application will be approved. "But we strongly encourage eligible businesses to apply, because if you don’t apply, you can’t benefit from this very limited opportunity," says Eric Escudero, spokesperson for the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses.
In the early months of the pandemic, Denver created a temporary outdoor dining program (which is set to become permanent this year). "The temporary outdoor dining program is a longer duration program, launched at a time when there were restrictions on indoor dining capacity and gatherings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 before vaccines were widely available to offer public health protection," Escudero explains. "It also offered expedited review for street and public sidewalk closures. This temporary waiving of the 30-day rule for temporary modification does not offer expedited review for proposals to close streets or public sidewalks, and will mainly benefit alcohol-serving businesses with a parking lot or a grass area they can expand their service to."
Many bars and restaurants that have spaces like parking lots or grassy areas that could fall under this new temporary expansion already have approval through the pandemic-era program, but some that weren't able to expand on a more long-term basis could still benefit.
Escudero also admits that the program will require extra work on the city's part. "Like the temporary outdoor dining program, it is going to increase the workload on city employees, but we recognized the Avs advancing to the Stanley Cup Final is a golden opportunity to continue our focused effort to help bars and restaurants recover, and we know it is a step we have to take."
So while it doesn't sound like Denver streets will be turned into one big party for the Stanley Cup finals, some lucky bars and restaurants may be able to take advantage of this opportunity to celebrate the Avs and get a much-needed revenue boost in the process.