Food News

New Restaurant on the Boulder Reservoir Seeks Support for Liquor License Approval

New Restaurant on the Boulder Reservoir Seeks Support for Liquor License Approval
The Boulder Reservoir is a summertime staple of the Front Range: Catching rays by the beach, boating and swimming make for memorable get-togethers. With a recent renovation of the visitors center and plans for a restaurant called Driftwind at 5565 51st Street, it's poised to attract even more people.

Boulder Parks and Recreation has renovated the space and plans to extend summer hours into the night, which would include dinner service by the shore. Driftwind owner Josh Dinar has exciting ideas for people enjoying the reservoir, which include daytime snacks and drinks from Boulder staple Ruthie’s Boardwalk Social; grill kits for people using the outdoor grill facilities; floating meal kits so people can enjoy a meal on the water; and the opportunity to host weddings, quinceañeras and other special events. The restaurant plans to open Memorial Day weekend.

However, a number of neighbors who live near the reservoir have complained that the introduction of a restaurant could threaten their safety, putting the approval of Driftwind's liquor license in jeopardy. Although the consumption of alcohol is currently permitted at the reservoir, some residents are concerned that Driftwind's opening will result in more drunk drivers. Last summer, those neighbors's threats to protest at a planned series of dinners led to the cancellation of the events. 

Other parks in Boulder offer dining options that serve booze, like Flagstaff House and Chautauqua Dining Hall — around 1.8 million people visit the mountain parks of Boulder each year, and these establishments have become fixtures. As at most restaurants, staff serving alcohol are required to complete TIPS (Training for Intervention Procedures) certification, which involves extensive coursework in responsible serving practices and how to prevent intoxication. The local neighborhood is also concerned with an increase in noise once the restaurant is established.
Alison Rhodes, director of Boulder Parks and Recreation, says similar concerns were shared by those living near Chautauqua Dining Hall, which is why the department invested in a sound surveillance system to ensure noise didn’t exceed a certain decibel level. Parks and Recreation has installed the same system at Boulder Reservoir in the hopes of keeping the peace between park visitors and the neighborhood.

Dinar, who is also a part owner of other restaurants including Ash'Kara, River and Woods and Tributary Food Hall, understands the liability of serving alcohol. He is hoping to organize a ride-share network to prevent drunk driving, and has plans to offer a shuttle option in the rare instance that a diner becomes too inebriated to drive.

Rhodes reiterates that alcohol is currently allowed at Boulder Reservoir, and she anticipates that a restaurant with trained staff could be a positive feature of the renovations.

“This is exactly why the city wants to have an operator there. Because right now, anyone can bring open containers. ... We’re liable for overserving somebody or serving an underaged guest, and we know that," Dinar says.

”Boulder Reservoir was initially created to secure a source of water for the Front Range and as a place to recreate," Rhodes adds. "For decades, Boulder Parks and Recreation has maintained the reservoir in a sustainable way. If something seems to be a detriment to the park, we remove the problem," adding that she believes this restaurant aligns with the goals and vision of Parks and Recreation.

Driftwind's liquor license has yet to be approved, and a petition for Boulder residents to show support for it will be open through next week.

“I’ve definitely learned I’m not cut out to be a politician," Dinar concludes. "Really, all we want to do is run a restaurant and a place where people can gather and have private events. Not a rave, not a nightclub.”
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Dustin Bailey grew up in the mountains of Colorado and began cooking in kitchens at a young age. He improved his culinary skills in a variety of food genres and then shifted his focus towards sustainable farming practices. As a farming apprentice, he was able to get the full farm-to-table experience. Now he shares his perspective through food writing and photography.
Contact: Dustin Bailey