Capitol Hill bar Sancho’s Broken Arrow has received a notice from the city requiring it to be vacated immediately and remain empty until the city’s stay-at-home order is lifted.
The news, first shared last week by Westword, follows visits from police that found the Grateful Dead-themed bar in violation of Denver Department of Public Health and Environment’s order requiring bars and restaurants to be empty during the coronavirus shutdown.
“The first orders were issued on April 15, 2020, to cease all in house consumption and only adhere to LED (Liquor Enforcement Division) to-go sales,” a city spokesman said. “(Sancho’s was) instructed not have any consumption of alcohol on site by staff, owner or patrons.”
However, a court summons was later issued to Sancho’s on April 24 for three separate counts, the city official said: Failure to comply with previous orders, failure to comply with current Denver stay-at-home orders, and hindering an investigation.
“In addition to the summons and closure we issued orders to clean the facility prior to opening,” the spokesman said.
Owner Jay Bianchi, who Denver officials said was complaint with their requests, considers his bar an easy target for police since he often blasts music from the inside — even when it’s empty. He said that was the case with these complaints, even as neighbors told police they saw people entering the bar.
“That did not happen,” Bianchi said Monday. “When I talked to the officer he said, ‘This what we think’s going on, but there’s no way to prove you’re running (a speakeasy) in there. … That’s a logical thought process, but it’s better not to argue with them.”
The bar is located essentially across the street from Denver Police Department’s District 6 station, at 1566 Washington St.
“I’m expecting a fine, whenever that arrives, but that’s all in the future,” Bianchi added. “Honestly, it’s a bit of a relief because rather than being neurotic about having to be there all the time and working between all of my businesses for 24 years straight, I can take some time to organize and reflect.”
Bianchi said he was playing music and rearranging posters at Sancho’s when the police officers initially knocked on his door, so he didn’t hear them. He lives above Sancho’s and has been splitting his time between his computer screen, several reorganization projects and the bar in recent weeks.
“Now they can drive by there and know that nothing’s happening,” he said of the police. “It’s a blessing, really, and relieving to know that I can’t even go in there now, whether I’m consuming or not.”
The city’s citation, posted at 741 E. Colfax Ave. on April 24, noted that violators are subject to arrest.
“This establishment shall be vacated immediately and remain vacant until a representative of the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment rescinds this order in writing and removes this placard except for the allowance of filling online orders that shall be shipped via mail or delivered in accordance with physical distancing restrictions,” read the sign on Sancho’s door.
Bianchi also owns and operates the similarly jam-band-themed Denver bar/venues Be on Key Psychedelic Ripple and Quixotes True Blue.
“Perhaps this person was happy experiencing his place as if it was truely (sic) his space,” Bianchi wrote on Facebook Monday, before quoting the Grateful Dead’s “Box of Rain.” “Now perhaps you explain that to a police officer and perhaps they will believe you. Well, believe it if you need it, leave it if you dare!”
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