Liquor licenses for restaurants, bars and coffee shops often are not cheap or easy to get, but Ryan Cobbins, owner of Coffee at the Point, found a way to serve wine in his Five Points coffee shop: He partnered with Cottonwood Cellars.
Coffee at the Point will be the vineyard's tasting venue, Cobbins says, adding that while he would have liked to have gotten a full liquor license to serve coffee drinks with a kick, two things stood in his way: money and zoning.
"The previous owner sought a liquor license," Cobbins says. "But you can't have a school within 500 feet. We are about 490 feet away from a school."
Cobbins's building is located at 710 East 26th Avenue, a short jog from Creative Environment A, a preschool/kindergarten located at 2739 California Street, and Tubman Hilliard Global Academy, at 2741 Welton Street.
"There was talk of [Environment A] moving, but it's a great school, and I'd rather it stayed," Cobbins says.
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And then there was the money. "I know the challenges with getting a liquor license -- not only the cost, but going in front of a board...going that route," he explains. "Us being a start-up, we had to be concerned about the start-up cost, the capital outlay."
According to the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses, businesses seeking a new liquor license have to shell out $1,000 for the application fee and an additional $38.50 for an FBI background check. Then applicants must provide a requisite stack of forms that includes the building lease or deed, a zoning use permit (more paperwork from a different department), a plot plan and an extremely detailed drawing of the inside and outside of the building. Applicants then have to be fingerprinted and, if they are a corporation, partnership or limited liability company, present corresponding documents. And then come the hearings, petitions, potential opposition...and the waiting.
Rather than go that route, Cobbins spoke to several different wineries about the proposition of having their wines available for his customers, and he chose Cottonwood Cellars. The local vineyard is owned by the husband-and-wife team of Keith and Diana Read. Diana, who handles the marketing, obtained a wine-tasting permit for Coffee at the Point directly through the vineyard, a process that was "a fraction of the cost of getting a liquor license," Cobbins says. "I get the personal service from Cottonwood, like Novo Coffee."
So in addition to numerous coffee drinks, Coffee at the Point is now also pouring Cottonwood's Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Merlot and white Pinot Noir.