Cafe Society

Trader Joe's gets its retail liquor license in Denver

We can almost taste the Two Buck Chuck.

The Trader Joe's store that will be located at 790 Colorado Boulevard had a date with the city last Friday for a hearing on its liquor-license application -- and the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses just approved its retail liquor store license, which, under Colorado law, will make this the only Trader Joe's in the state allowed to sell liquor.

See also: - Trader Joe's is still not in Colorado -- see what you're missing.- Walmart pulls out of CU site near Trader Joe's project most neighbors embrace

What is technically referred to as Trader Joe's #310 is slated to open in the third quarter of 2013, about the same time another Trader Joe's store will open in Boulder. But that location will be dry, since a grocery store/drug store company is only allowed one liquor license in Colorado, no matter how many stores it has. And Trader Joe's #310 was the first location to jump through the hoops to get a retail store liquor license.

According to a Trader Joe's Company official who testified at the hearing, 88 percent of the company's stores sell alcohol -- including branded beer, wine and spirits, as well as private label brands. At Trader Joe's #310, the liquor store will be a separate shop with its own door, to comply with Colorado law.

In his recommended decision, William Hobbs, the hearing officer at the October 26 hearing, recommended that the Trader Joe's application be approved, and noted that there was no opposition to the application. (Ironically, this store will be only a block from where Walmart wanted to put a location -- a project that had plenty of opposition). And while Hobb's recommendation, which was issued on the same day as the hearing, noted that "any party in interest" could file objections to the recommended decision within ten calendar days of that date, Tom Downey, the director of excise and licenses, didn't wait long to issue his final decision, and approve the application.

Here's that final decision:

Trader Joe's Final Decision

"We don't have to wait," Downey notes. "We're not handing them the license."

Not today, the city isn't. But less than a year from now, if Trader Joe's #310 passes all its city inspections -- with safety, with planning/zoning, with excise and licenses -- it will have that license.

And Denver will finally have its Two Buck Chuck.


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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