Cafe Society

Zaidy's turns into Fusion Cantina and goes for a cabaret license...maybe

David Hannes, president of the Writer Square Condominium Association, has had his hands full dealing with the ongoing renovations at Writer's Square, which have turned the downtown oasis into a concrete desert. He lives above the restaurant that had been Zaidy's Downtown Deli, and he's also kept a close eye on the the changes in the space downstairs, which have added another level of frustration regarding the area's uncertain future.

This spring, while Zaidy's remained a deli during the day, it transformed into Zaidy's Fusion Grill at night, featuring a menu of small plates and music, including salsa. "It has been terrible," Hannes says of the late-night activities. "There have been nights I can't get to sleep until after 1:30 a.m."

Hannes says he contacted the restaurant 37 times to complain, but the noise issue was not resolved.

On one occasion, Hannes called the Denver Police Department to report loud music; the officer who responded subsequently told Hannes that offering a DJ and dancing violated Zaidy's hotel/restaurant liquor license The restaurant's response? The dancing was spontaneous, and not a result of its advertised salsa nights, Hannes recalls.

Although Zaidy's is allowed ten special events a year under its current license, it is required to inform the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses of any such bookings. On July 13, the city sent a letter to the restaurant's owners, notifying them of several complaints of "excessively high noise levels, illegal live music and illegal dancing." The letter referenced a Zaidy's postcard promoting salsa music and dancing from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., and instructed the owners to "immediately cease" the music and dancing until they obtained either a standard cabaret license (which would allow a DJ) or a dance cabaret license (which would also allow dancing). The new activities were affecting nearby residents' "sense of peace," the city continued, noting that those residents were there before "Zaidy's changed its business concept and Zaidy's must accommodate the needs of the neighboring residents."

And what do the neighboring residents need? "We would like to see some diversity, such as art galleries and retail clothing stores," Hannes says. "We already have bars." Writer Square is home to the popular Front Porch and Red Square, as well as other eateries that have also been suffering through construction.

"Lately the noise level has been better," Hannes says, adding that he thinks that could be because Zaidy's -- which has now changed its name to Fusion Cantina -- had a liquor license hearing scheduled with the city on September 16. Hannes had planned to be there to testify as both a resident and as president of the Writer Square Condominium Association -- "We have over a hundred signatures against the application," he says.

But on Monday, the hearing date disappeared off the department's schedule, and the former Zaidy's/Fusion Cantina was dark. Westword's calls haven't been returned, either -- but we're not up to 37 yet.

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Rob Fisher
Contact: Rob Fisher