Even as the area north of downtown gentrifies, certain problematic pockets remain. The area around 22nd and Arapahoe streets, for example, where the manager of the brand-new (and beautiful) Lobby American Grille, located in the space in the historic Paris Hotel at 2191 Arapahoe Street that was once occupied by La Coupole, was beaten earlier this week during an altercation near the restaurant.
That's near the restaurant, not at the restaurant.
The owners of the Lobby are also the folks behind the Whiskey Bar, at 2203 Larimer Street, so they know the challenges of emerging neighborhoods. And they also know that, if you leave the more downtrodden denizens alone, they'll probably leave you alone.
And if you challenge them during a smoke break off the property, back by the alley, as the Lobby manager and a bartender did Tuesday night, you might get roughed up.
After a brief trip to the hospital, the manager was back at the restaurant Thursday night, assuring the troops that he was okay, says manager Rachael Schwab. Also on hand: an expanded Denver Police Department presence.
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That's going to come as good news to neighbors like Steve Cruz, who's lived in the area for six years and fired off a note to Denver Police Department Commander Deborah Dilley as soon as he heard about the beating:
"I commonly see people lighting glass pipes, defecating, urinating, drinking liquor, and fighting. I have made numerous calls to 911, hung around and never seen more of a response than a couple of cruisers pulling in, then announcing over a speaker that people need to move along. Then they drive away and nobody moves..." he wrote. "Before I moved to this neighborhood, I knew very well the nature of its transition. Since the displacement of Hurricane Katrina and the economic slump, several of us have noticed the street population has increased and become more aggressive. We understand we have to share the neighborhood and be smart. It's disheartening that the response to calls for help have varied greatly in responsiveness and attitude."
But there may never be a better time to visit the neighborhood. It's still patio weather, and the Lobby has the very best one in town. And this weekend, likely the safest.
For Jason Sheehan's account of a visit to the area when the Paris Hotel was home to Buenos Aires Grille, click here.