Protesters gather outside El Diablo and Sketch, but the restaurants remain off limits

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Protesters gathered outside the First Avenue Hotel late yesterday afternoon, waving signs and asking the city to allow Sketch and El Diablo to reopen -- and for employees of those restaurants to start collecting paychecks again. They've also started a petition on the web -- at www.saveeldiabloandsketch.com -- asking the same thing.

The restaurants, both part of Jesse Morreale's $5 million renovation of the 106-year-old hotel, have been closed since last Tuesday, when the City of Denver slapped the building with notice-to-vacate signs, saying it was unsafe.

Morreale and attorney David Fine were at City Hall today, meeting with assorted officials, sharing letters from structural engineers who say they're fairly sure the building is not going to fall over tomorrow, and trying to come up with some kind of solution that would allow El Diablo and Sketch to reopen, while also satisfying city requirements.

But there's no resolution yet, and the building remains dark tonight.

And it's a pretty safe bet that chef Brian Laird's Patria Rosso Wine dinner -- Sketch's first wine dinner of 2012, scheduled for tomorrow night -- is on hold.

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