Bender’s Tavern closing Oct. 31; Quixote’s True Blue to take over lease (news)By John Wenzel | October 19th, 2012 | 4 comments
Capitol Hill punk and hard rock bar Bender’s Tavern is closing at the end of the month, Reverb learned today, and will be taken over by current Ballpark Neighborhood jam-band venue Quixote’s True Blue.
“We realized we were upside down probably six months ago and that we needed to change our format and work harder, or start thinking about trying to find a buyer,” said Luke Schmaltz, who has owned Bender’s Tavern since 2009. “But it didn’t really pan out.”
The 8 ½-year-old bar at 314 East 13th Ave., like the just-shuttered Lancer Lounge, is one of the last gritty hangers-on of the old Capitol Hill, a neighborhood that has seen a wave of new businesses in recent years despite the sluggish economy.
Residential condo development in the Ballpark neighborhood is pushing Quixote’s out of its current spot at 2151 Lawrence St., according owner Jay Bianchi, and a mutual “friend” of Bianchi and Schmaltz’s conveyed the news about Bender’s, leading to Bianchi deciding to buy out the last year of Schmaltz’s lease there.
“This sounds a little seedy but I know someone — he cleans the bathrooms for a lot of the bars in Denver — and he found out that Luke was trying to get out, and I was trying to get out too,” said Bianchi, who has seen Quixote’s jump around to multiple locations over the years. “He’s just got a rental deal and a lease so I’m buying his contract out. We’re renegotiating it but it’s basically a year lease, so we’ll be there for a little while.”
Bender’s is slated to officially close on Oct. 31, while Quixote’s is planning a “soft” opening on Capitol Hill Nov. 9 and an official opening on Nov. 15, according to Bianchi, who does not have plans for any immediate renovations.
Schmaltz, singer of Denver punk band King Rat and a staff writer at Modern Drunkard magazine, started at Bender’s in 2004 as a bartender and bought the place five years later. He blamed poor promotion of the shows there on the unprofessional bands that play Bender’s, and said he’d rather see the space filled than go empty.
“Quixote’s, they’re booking the genre of rock ‘n roll that’s gonna survive — the jam band stuff. That’s cool. Whatever. Right on. It’s not for me, but it’s live music. But if that was my thing that I knew I would have been booking it a long time ago.”
John Wenzel is an A&E reporter and Features blogs editor for The Denver Post.