Colorado Music-Related Business|

It’s not business as usual inside the Broadway Roxy (photo by Paula Vrakas)

By Kyle Harris, Westword | The southern Colorado city of Trinidad, population under 9,000, could become the state’s next cultural hub — if a who’s who of Denver entrepreneurs, cultural mavens and preservationists have their way.

The latest in a string of Denver businesses to announce a presence in the town: Mutiny Information Cafe, a bookshop, record store, all-ages DIY hub and community gathering spot at 2 South Broadway.

And soon, also in Trinidad.

Split by I-25 and connected by major highways to New Mexico, Kansas and Texas, the old coal-mining town has had a turbulent economy that has boomed and busted since it was founded in 1870. It’s seen bloody miners’ strikes, served as the gender-reassignment capital of the world, ridden the oil industry roller coaster and, most recently, become a cannabis lover’s paradise, with around two dozen dispensaries — one for roughly every 400 people in town.

Conservation-minded developer and visionary Dana Crawford has been active in Trinidad since 2016, working on restoring the old opera house, the Fox West Theatre — which has hosted a series of live-stream concerts — and other sites.

Sexy Pizza founder, former cannabis mogul and 2018 Denver mayoral hopeful Kayvan Khalatbari, who has been a major supporter of comedy, DIY publishing and other creative undertakings in Denver, has spent the past few months buying properties to help turn the town into a cultural hotspot filled with affordable housing and worker-owned businesses. He plans to open a Sexy Pizza with a yet-to-be-disclosed Denver brewery, a music venue and more.

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The Zephyr Lounge Reaches the End of the Line

By Kyle Harris, Westword | “It is with a heavy heart that after 73 years in business, the Zephyr is now closed,” announced owner Myron Melnick on social media on November 1. “The train that never leaves Aurora will be leaving the station.”

The Zephyr Lounge was a legendary family-owned bar, restaurant and venue that Melnick inherited in 2003 from his father, Barry Melnick, who’d purchased the building at 11940 East Colfax Avenue in 1947. Once a mainstay for mid-century tourists traveling Route 40, more recently it had become a hangout for workers at the nearby Anschutz Medical Campus as well as old-timers in the rapidly changing neighborhood.

“When I originally took over the Zephyr from my dad, I thought it would be a couple of years,” Melnick recalls. “It’s been almost twenty. It’s been an amazing run. My father always said if he was reincarnated or came back, he would do the same thing over again. I understand the charm of the business. It’s opened my eyes to so much. If I went around the world five times, I wouldn’t have seen the humanity and all I saw in the twenty years I was there.”

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The Broadway Roxy Owner on the Worst Day of Her Life

By Katrina Leibee, Westword | The Broadway Roxy, at 554 South Broadway, is one of many venues struggling to stay afloat through the pandemic. While the venue has pulled that off so far, with COVID-19 cases on the rise, no federal relief in sight and the threat of more stay-at-home orders looming in Denver, the Roxy’s fate is far from certain.

Owner Paula Vrakas recalls stressing out as she first learned about COVID-19 on the news and watched Colorado start to close. It wasn’t long before she realized that her venue faced “impending doom.”

On March 16, she was forced to shutter her doors until further notice. After laying off 87 people at her Denver and Encinitas, California, locations, the remaining staff unplugged the sound equipment and freezers, shut down the gas and power breakers and turned out the lights, not knowing when, or if, they might open again.

“It was the worst day of my life,” she says.

During the months that the Denver club was closed, Vrakas and her remaining team remodeled the Roxy’s kitchen and staff lounge.

The venue and restaurant were finally able to open again on June 3, with a performance by Denver folksinger Louise, Lately. The Broadway Roxy has showcased musicians every night since.

While the staff at the Roxy was excited to get up and running again, business is far from normal because of the pandemic. Capacity has been cut. “Regulation says that the musicians have to be 25 feet from the tables,” Vrakas says. “We used plexiglass as an extra barrier.”

Outside, the venue offers patio space; inside, seating is down to thirteen tables from the original 25. For months, capacity was cut to 50 percent. As of last week, the state reduced the capacity for indoor venues in Denver to 25 percent.

“[I miss] seeing everybody high-fiving, laughing, hugging, being jovial and having a good time,” Vrakas says. “I don’t think I even realized how much it mattered until I didn’t have it anymore. The energy in the Roxy when we were having those shows was magic.”

But despite the situation not being ideal, Vrakas was happy to bring back almost all of her Denver staff once the spot reopened.

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Find the musical lineup for the Broadway Roxy here: https://broadwayroxy.com/


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