Denver Gets its First Sober Bar!
Count Denver’s Jefferson Park neighborhood as being Awake. Wide Awake. In name and in fact. Why? Awake sober bar and coffee shop. That’s why. And the timing couldn’t be better.
Indeed, with the pandemic wreaking havoc in the world — and substance abuse rising accordingly — it’s most definitely an apropos moment to launch a sober hangout. That’s the feeling of Denver residents Christy and Billy Wynne anyway. And that’s why they’ve opened Awake.
Sober Bar and Coffee Shop
Business Den broke the sober story. And it did so with dutiful applause. After all, right now the world needs all the good news it can get. And Awake’s opening is definitely good news. For the Wynnes. For sobriety. And for sober communities everywhere.
It’s especially good news considering Billy Wynne and his wife Christy decided to get sober only last year.
“We are lucky it was more of a life choice than a necessity,” Wynne told Business Den’s Lily O’Neill. “I just realized one day that the worst thing going on in my life was alcohol, whether it was the hangovers or bad choices made while intoxicated. And that was my signal to quit.”
Once the Wynnes did get sober however, they found a decided shortage of relaxing and comfortable alcohol-free hangouts. So they did what any enthusiastic entrepreneurial couple would do — they opened their own.
In enter Awake. At once a coffee shop and alcohol-free bar. Or, as the Wynnes like to site it: a life bar. Set to open in Denver’s increasingly cool Jefferson Park neighborhood.
“It’s a very dense residential neighborhood, and there’s no coffee shop immediately nearby,” said Billy. “So, we thought it would be a perfect fit.”
Wynne said he’s “also excited to be opening Colorado’s first sober bar.”
Of course Wynne didn’t simply stumble blindly into the business. He’d already had real estate experience. In fact, he -purchased the spot through through his real estate holding company. The company’s called Jagrata Holdings, and property records show he paid $895,000 for the 1,200-square-foot space. Once upon a time the spot had been home to the Tiki-themed bar Hidden Idol. Hidden Idol alas couldn’t hold on through the pandemic.
Wynne told Business Den that “Awake will first open for coffee window service.” They’ll also be serving “a variety of breakfast items, such as fresh baked muffins from Aspen Baking and burritos from Mame’s Burritos.”
The Wynnes plan to add non-alcoholic beverages to the window service just in time for dry January. On the menu? Alcohol-free lagers, sours and Prosecco from Denver-based Gruvi brewery, as well as Lyre’s non-alcoholic spirits and Monday’s non-alcoholic gin.
“We’ll have three different IPAs, two different stouts and lagers and a variety of options,” Wynne said. “We want people to feel like they’re in the bar without the chemical of alcohol.”
The plans are to expand into a sit-down bar and coffee shop come Spring. Wynne said they wanted to start out with window service in case winter leads to another statewide shutdown.
“We had some considerable reservations about opening during COVID,” Wynne said. “But on the other hand, the time had come. And we wanted to put the wheels in motion as soon as we could. COVID has actually benefited us in some ways, especially real estate-wise. It’s also required us to phase in the business, which is ultimately a good thing. Now we can carefully ramp up to the full experience.”
There’s more good news. Every month Awake will donate 2 percent of its sales and 20 percent of its profits to a different local charity. November’s donations are set for Denver’s Children Advocacy Center.
“Christy and I both wanted this business to align with our values and be a fulfillment of a lot of our passions,” Wynne said. “One of those is community service and support, so we felt this was an opportunity to bring together a lot of our values and interests and manifest this in the space.”
Jefferson Park History
9News KUSA’s Caitlin Hendee says the Jefferson Park “neighborhood is a microcosm of modern Denver.” It “used to be part of Denver’s first suburb,” she writes, “known for cleaner water and even cleaner morals.”
Hendee (and Allison Sylte) were writing as part of 9NEWS’ weekly highlighting of different Colorado neighborhoods. The initiative was called #9Neighborhoods. And it turned out to be quite an Instagram favorite.
“Historic houses stand in front of a backdrop of gargantuan luxury apartment complexes,” they wrote. “There are families that have been there for generations.” There are also “plenty of folks with tiny dogs fresh off the U-Haul from California.”
“There are a couple of very authentic Mexican restaurants,” they added, “as well as two breweries within just a couple of blocks of one another.” Now the ‘hood also has its first sober bar.
The writers also say the neighborhood, which “is just north of the soon-to-be-renamed Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium, used to be considered Denver’s first suburb.” Despite the fact that you can walk downtown in less than half an hour.
Back then, “it was the Town of Highland.” In 1875 “Highland “was something of an ‘elite’ suburb, with men working in Denver then heading to their classy retreat.” A retreat “that touted ‘clean artesian water’ and even cleaner morals.”
“You can’t make this stuff up,” said the writers. And we wouldn’t want to. In fact, we like it just the way it is. And we thank them for their candid neighborhood snapshot. We’ll also remember Jefferson Park is located just across the Platte River. And so is a very special sober bar by the name of Awake.