The Rackhouse Pub, which opened inside the Stranahan's whiskey distillery in October 2009 as one of Denver's first craft-beverage themed restaurants, will close on April 4 and reopen in its own space across the street, possibly as soon as this fall.
"We wanted to continue here, but for us to both to be able grow and achieve our goals, we weren't going to be able to co-habitate anymore," Rackhouse owner Chris Rippe says of the split with Stranahan's.
Although it will be difficult to be out of business for five to seven months, Rippe says the new location will allow him to have control over his own space and add more taps and new features, like a big patio with views of the mountains and a massive, 3,000- to 5,000-bottle cellar. "I've learned some things over the past five years," he notes.
He also plans to lease an attached building to a new or in-formation brewery and is currently looking for one. "It will be great to have a restaurant and a brewery and a distillery feeding off of each others' strengths," he says.
Rippe closed on his purchase of the now-vacant building, at 930 West Byers Place, in the past few days, and hopes to be able to open the doors in September. The spot is roughly the same size as his current location, about 7,400 square feet.
Over the past five years, Stranahan's and the Rackhouse have done well by one another: The Rackhouse promoted fine whiskey and allowed customers to buy their own bottles of Stranahan's and keep them on site, while the distillery brought in tour groups and others who ate at the restaurant.
Both establishments concentrated on their Colorado roots and on the craft brewing and distilling movements that have exploded in the state.
But Stranahan's has grown significantly since 2010, when it was purchased by New Jersey-based Proximo Spirits, and the company has ramped up production to the point where it was becoming harder for the two businesses to coexist.
As a result, Stranahan's and the Rackhouse came to an agreement in which the whiskey maker will buy out the rest of the Rackhouse's lease -- a deal that will allow Rippe to finance the purchase of the new building.
"I want the Rackhouse to continue, and I can't think of a better neighborhood to do it than the one we are already in," Rippe says.
Westword's Beer Man on Twitter at @ColoBeerMan and on Facebook at Colo BeerMan
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.