Sunday, September 30, 2012



DENVER, CO -  On Thursday, September 27, 2012, William Hobbs, the hearing officer who presided over the September 19 liquor-license renewal hearing for Rockbar, recommended that Rockbar’s liquor license not be renewed. 

After almost 7-years of operating, Rockbar has been the anchor to help turn around a troubled real estate property, it employs many Denver residents, contributes to Denver’s tax base, is a favored place for people to meet friends every week, and was the host to many celebrities like Susan Sarandon, Alan Cumming, and Anne Hathaway during the 2008 Democratic National Convention.  The Rockbar is regular stop and parking option for people visiting the Colfax entertainment district – Rockbar is one of the few businesses in the neighborhood that has a parking lot, and they don’t charge anyone to park there. The liquor-license renewal hearing for Rockbar was originally called by the City citing an allegation that Rockbar had operated an outdoor patio in violation of its liquor license.  However, at the beginning of the hearing the City rescinded this charge. 

Instead of ending the hearing then as would have been appropriate, Rockbar’s counsel, ownership and management were ambushed with other criticisms.  These ranged from police reports (that Denver Police confirmed didn’t even have anything to do with Rockbar), alleged issues related to a good neighborhood agreement regarding food service, and false statements from four (yes, only four) residents living or owning property within a 5-block radius of the business.  Regardless of not having any other neighbors’ support of their criticism, these neighbors suggested that the Rockbar operates in a manner that is noisy and is a nuisance to the neighborhood. These neighbors even admitted that they had made efforts to get other residents to participate in the accusations against Rockbar, yet no other residents agreed and wanted to corroborate their complaints.

Prior to the hearing, no charge was made against Rockbar of any of these types of issues, and at the hearing no real evidence was presented that supports them, yet the hearing lasted more than four hours. Eight days later the hearing officer recommended that the liquor license not be renewed, not because of anything that had occurred at Rockbar or that could even be attributed to Rockbar, but because of alleged behavior in general by people on and around Colfax.

In Rockbar’s 6-year history, there have been ZERO noise complaints, NO violations issued,NO charges of disturbing the peace or public nuisance, etc. from the City or Denver Police, and not even any complaints being communicated by the Registered Neighborhood Organizations or any of the residents themselves.

This is an issue of fundamental fairness.  How can the City take away the ability to operate as a business when there has been no notice, violations, or even concerns communicated to the Rockbar from the City, the RNO’s, or any of the individual residents?

Is the City prepared to hold all business owners to this same standard?

If the answer to that question is yes, then it’s an extremely frightening situation for all residents and business owners in Denver.  If the answer is no, then how can the City possibly justify the actions it has taken so far, much less the possibility of the non-renewal of Rockbar’s license to be in business…

The final decision will be determined by the Department of Excise and Licenses on October 5th, “after review and consideration of the Recommended Decision and any objections from interested parties.”

We encourage you to join us in support of Rockbar, and perhaps through the process let the City know that its residents will not tolerate this kind of unjustified, overreaching, and abusive behavior.

Sign your name on the petition at to tell Tom Downey (the Director of Denver Excise & License), Mayor Hancock, and Denver City Council to save Rockbar!  An email will be sent on your behalf, and your name will be added to a list to receive updates on the matter.

In addition, feel free to email the City directly, with your own personal message regarding this matter:

Tom Downey

Please cc: Adam Stapen  


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