Snooze switches position on camping ban

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Even as Coors Field was filling up last Friday, fans were learning Ballpark neighborhood mainstay Snooze would no longer support the city's May 2012 ban on camping because it hasn't helped the homeless community.

Snooze had initially supported that proposal -- a stance that inspired Occupy Denver to boycott the restaurant. But in a Facebook post on April 5 -- the same day the original restaurant at 2262 Larimer Street took the day off to celebrate its seventh birthday -- Snooze announced the change. See also: - Snooze protest: Owner talks homeless workers, Nazi allegations - Best Pancakes: Best of Denver 2013 - Snooze named as "breakout brand" in Nation's Restaurant News special report

Here's the message Snooze posted on Facebook for its fans (of which there are currently 14,112):

Since we established Snooze in the heart of the 5 Points/Arapahoe Square and the Ballpark Neighborhoods, Snooze has worked to support and help Denver's homeless community. We have embraced this endeavor by hiring and providing employment; sitting on the board of the Denver Homeless Commission; fundraising; creating a mentoring program through Urban Peak; volunteering and spreading awareness to support the homeless.

When the Urban Camping Ban proposal was presented to us, we believed the ban would provide and allow for more services and support in the form of shelters, mental health and general assistance for our area homeless. We believe that the Urban Camping Ban has not provided these opportunities and should be repealed or amended to more effectively meet the needs of our homeless community. As always, our goal at Snooze is to support and assist any endeavor that strives to improve and better the lives of our homeless community. To that end, we believe that the Urban Camping Ban has not met the needs of Denver's homeless community and we respectively ask the city of Denver as well as the business community at large to work towards repeal or modification of the Urban Camping Ban and work towards an effective solution for Denver's business and homeless communities.

Before it opened its doors seven years ago, Snooze was working hard with the homeless -- many of whom were hanging out in front of those doors. Some of them became Snooze employees. And even as Snooze has grown (there are now five restaurants in Colorado and one in San Diego, with more to come, and Nation's Restaurant News named Snooze a "break-out brand" for 2013), the owners have continued to study the problem. Initially, they spoke out in support of the camping ban, which earned the Ballpark Snooze a brief boycott. But now, almost a year into Denver's ban on camping, they've decided that the ordinance was not the fix the city had hoped for.

"As far as the camping ban, Snooze is excited for the city, the homeless providers, and the business communities to continue working together to find more ways to help the homeless population," says Snooze founder Jon Schlegel. "We're excited to continue to hire and train those from Urban Peak and other service providers, we're going to continue to volunteer at the Denver Rescue Mission monthly, and we will continue our support of fundraising for non-profits related to this and other concerns of our world." A version of this story appeared earlier today on The Latest Word, our news blog.

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