| Bars |

Hidden Idol's Tiki Party Ends After a One-Year Run in Jefferson Park

Bartenders Ben Krajenke and Allister Obey serve flaming craft cocktails at Hidden Idol.EXPAND
Bartenders Ben Krajenke and Allister Obey serve flaming craft cocktails at Hidden Idol.
Nigel Dick
Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

If you need to escape to the islands, you'd better do it before Sunday, because Hidden Idol is calling it quits. Another victim of the COVID-19 crisis, the popular tropical-themed bar will be serving its last tiki cocktail on Sunday, June 28, before closing for good.

Owner John Elliott says he just can’t make enough money for the bar to survive under the current restrictions put in place to flatten the curve on the coronavirus pandemic. “We’re allowed 50 percent capacity, but the way our bar is laid out, with social distancing we really can only do about 30 percent. Nobody opens a bar or restaurant planning on less than 50 percent capacity.”

The bar had a soft reopening two weeks ago after a three-month closure, and even though reservations filled up, Elliott just couldn’t make the numbers work. “In the Denver market, rents are high, and so is the cost of doing business for a liquor license. It’s a law of diminishing returns,” he explains. “We would need each person to drink five or six cocktails to make the money we need to make. We can’t responsibly serve people that many drinks. You serve somebody five Zombie drinks and you’d have to call an ambulance.”

The bar has been a favorite on the craft-cocktail scene, as well as with the Denver Tiki Tribe subculture. It opened as an intimate space on East Colfax Avenue (above the now-closed Southside Bar + Kitchen) in February 2017 before moving to a larger space in Jefferson Park exactly one year ago, making our list of the ten best new bars to open in 2019.

Announcement of the closure sparked an outcry from Tiki Tribe regulars on social media to try to save their beloved bar, suggesting a fundraiser or even moving it to a backyard speakeasy. When asked about the response, Elliott chuckles: “That would be great, but liquor laws don’t allow us to operate as a business like that. We would have to convert into some sort of caterer, and I think that would restrict our bartenders too much.”

You only have a few more days to get a tiki drink at Hidden Idol.EXPAND
You only have a few more days to get a tiki drink at Hidden Idol.
Nigel Dick

Elliott says he would rather see his talented mixologists, Ben Krajenke and Allister Obey, who’ve been with the bar since the beginning, seek out more lucrative freelance opportunities.

While Hidden Idol may be closing for now, Elliott says the goodbye isn’t forever. “Until we have a stable environment we can operate in, whether that means a vaccine, different requirements or the right space, we have to wait," he states. "But I’m keeping hold of the Hidden Idol intellectual property.”

He’s also curious to see how the pandemic is going to play out. “COVID is going to seriously change how our society functions," the bar owner says. "We look forward to being able to restart Hidden Idol in that new paradigm, once we know what it will look like.”

Hidden Idol is located at 2240 Clay Street and is open for reservations through the weekend. Call 720-389-8109 for details or visit the Hidden Idol website to make yours.

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.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.