Openings and Closings

Rockbar will close this weekend after a goodbye bash

Jesse Morreale has decided he can't fight city hall on two fronts. And so after last call on Saturday, October 27, he'll close Rockbar, the hipster hangout he opened in the All-Inn, the motel at 3015 East Colfax Avenue that he bought almost seven years ago.

Earlier this month, Tom Downey, the director of the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses, declined to renew Rockbar's liquor license, which had been temporarily extended since its expiration in August; the bar had both a cabaret license and a restaurant and hotel license, which requires that 25 percent of total sales be for food. The cabaret license was terminated immediately, taking any possibility of live entertainment along with it; the other license was extended until November 7, giving time for both the owner and employees to make plans.

But rather than reapply for a tavern license, which does not require a certain percentage of food sales, Morreale decided to close Rockbar altogether, and do so before the final deadline. See also: - Rockbar's request for special event cabaret permits denied - City denies Rockbar's liquor-license renewal

"The last weekend Denver will be able to enjoy this iconic, nationally known Denver institution will be this Friday and Saturday, October 26th and 27th," a Rockbar release announces, "because despite Downey's assumption that the business would appeal his outrageous decision, the damage already done to the business by the City is too deep, and the business cannot afford an appeal even though they believe the facts and the law support their position."

Morreale plans to board up the first-floor space that's been home to Rockbar. (The motel will remain open.) "I have dedicated the last fifteen years to rehabilitating blighted buildings in struggling neighborhoods throughout Denver, hiring hundreds of employees and contributing millions to the tax base," Morreale says, "and how does the City thank me? By closing my business based on absurd and unjustified accusations, which we proved to be false. Denver is open for business? Quite the contrary."

But before Rockbar closes, there will be a weekend-long goodbye bash, at which people can toast the venue's legendary times, including its role as the after-hours spot for Hollywood celebs during the Democratic National Convention in August 2008.

Do you have a particular memory of Rockbar? Post it in the comments section below. And watch Cafe Society for an update on Morreale's other front: the First Avenue Hotel fight.


KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun