Eateries step up following tragedy

Column by Penny Parker

Posted 7/24/12

Suburban restaurants showed their deep community concern following last week’s horrific shootings at the Century Aurora 16. The Colorado Restaurant …

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Eateries step up following tragedy

Column by Penny Parker


Suburban restaurants showed their deep community concern following last week’s horrific shootings at the Century Aurora 16.

The Colorado Restaurant Association Mile High Chapter, the Aurora Chamber, the On Havana Street shopping district and Jammin’ 101.5, in conjunction with more than 50 restaurants and vendors, helped feed more than 600 first responders and those displaced by the senseless tragedy.

Over the weekend, the restaurants also provided breakfast for 200 people at the Aurora Police Department.

Garrett Ladd allowed the restaurants to use Gibby’s, a sports bar at 1555 S. Havana St., as a coordinating point to stage food to be delivered.

“I had an opportunity to speak with an Aurora (police department) coordinator … and all she wanted to say was thank you for everything,” said Lauren O’Brien, president of the restaurant association chapter, for which I write a blog. “Being fed (a lot) is one less thing to think about during this horrific time.

“While there is a lot of healing to come, I would like to think we did what we do and very well.”

Winery tour time

Tickets are on sale for Colorado’s first series of wine-and-farm tours, beginning at 8 a.m. Sept 8.

Food and wine fans will board a bus outside of Row 14 Bistro & Wine Bar, 891 14th St., for a two-day tour of this new series in Grand Valley, a partnership between Row 14 and the Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology.

The tour will begin on the bus where guests will taste 12 wines and receive a lesson on wine basics as well as the history and future of Colorado wines.

Upon arrival in the Grand Valley, attendees will embark on winery tours and tastings at Canyon Wind Cellars, Garfield Estates and Colterris Winery. After the tasting trip, diners will be treated to a 12-course family style Disassembly Dinner, a butcher-dinner series put on by Mark DeNittis, owner and butcher of Il Mondo Vecchio.

The two-day trip is $350 per person (based on double occupancy) and includes transportation to and from the Grand Valley, sack lunches, overnight stay at Wine Country Inn in Palisade, wine tastings and the 12-course dinner.

Call Row 14 for tickets: 303-825-0100.


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan announced the recipients of the Foreign Minister’s Commendation for fiscal year 2012.

In the jurisdiction of the Consulate-General of Japan in Denver, recipients were Richard Clark, senior partner of Rothgerber Johnson & Lyons; Kerry Hada, Denver County Court judge; and Raymond Uno, president of the Japanese Community Preservation Committee of Salt Lake City.

The recipients were commended for their outstanding contributions to promoting mutual understanding and goodwill between Japan and the United States. The commendations aim to honor outstanding achievement by individuals and groups in furthering greater understanding and support for good relations with the Japanese people.

Restaurants smackdown

While El Diablo and Sketch restaurants owner Jesse Morreale goes through a legal smackdown with Denver to get his suddenly shuttered businesses reopened, 150 employees, who haven’t been paid since July 10, need to earn a living.

To help them cover their bills, El Diablo and Sketch chefs Sean Yontz and Brian Laird set up shop inside the RockBar kitchen, another Morreale-owned building at 3015 E. Colfax.

RockBar is serving menu items from El Diablo and Sketch and will continue dinner service until the city allows the restaurants’ building at First and Broadway to reopen.

So what’s the beef?

The city suddenly deemed the historic 1906 building, which once housed The First Avenue Hotel, unsafe and in danger of putting the public at risk, a decision that Morreale strongly disputes.

“It’s terrifying what they’ve done and what they’re doing,” Morreale said about the city’s building officials. “Instead of acknowledging their mistake and correcting it right away, they’ve dug in their heels. Now, this has turned into a character assassination campaign against me.”

Andrea Burns, spokeswoman for Denver’s office of Community Planning and Development said, “The City and County of Denver has lent its support to El Diablo and Sketch in several ways over the last few years.

“Unfortunately, the deadline for the building’s work plan came and went, and critical structural and fire-safety work was not completed. The last official correspondence we have between the city and building owner regarding work plan status was in August 2011; it clearly illustrates that the work is not complete and that the consequence would be a designation as ‘unsafe.’ Additionally, new work was done without permits, exposing the building’s occupants to even greater risk.

It was the discovery of this new gas, electrical and construction work that ultimately led to enforcement action.

Stay tuned.

Penny Parker’s “Mile High Life” column is new in the newspapers and on the websites of Colorado Community Media. Parker, who also writes for Blacktie-Colorado, gives insights into the best events, restaurants, businesses, parties and people throughout the metro area. She can be reached at or at 303-619-5209.


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