North Capitol Hill bar shut down by city for on-site consumption

A North Capitol Hill music bar, which mostly boogies to Grateful Dead tunes, was shut down Tuesday by Denver health officials for on-site consumption of food and drink.

Be On Key Psychedelic Ripple Bar, 1700 Logan St., was ticketed by the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment for not complying with the city’s safer-at-home order, according to city officials.

The owner, Jay Bianchi, who also owns nearby Sancho’s Broken Arrow, also a dead head bar, was cited with a court summons and shut down, with a placard for on-site consumption placed on the business, according to the city.

Sancho’s was cited and shut down on April 24, under stay-at-home orders, for failure to comply with previous orders, failure to comply with then Denver stay-at-home orders, and hindering an investigation.

On Thursday, Bianchi said he opened the Ripple Bar last Friday, May 15, from 4 to 8 p.m. to sell take-out orders for hamburgers, hot dogs and drinks, including bar items. Music was turned on, a garage door on the building was open, but no customers were inside the building eating.

After making a purchase, customers stopped to linger and chat, catching up and resparking friendships, in the parking lot and an alleyway.

“I was trying to follow the rules, trying to make people happy and give them hope and all of that stuff,” Bianchi said. “We tried to shoo them away, they kept on gathering and then taking off their mask when they talked. That didn’t go well.”

Bianchi said he had three people working with him at the Ripple Bar and he opened it last Friday to try and keep his business afloat. With the current safer-at-home order, Bianchi believed he was operating within the rules.

Through the weekend business was brisk, Bianchi said, with more than 100 people passing through each day. Monday and Tuesday was much slower, he said.

The city received two complaints over the weekend and issued an order on Monday to respond. An inspection was done on Tuesday and an “order to vacate, access restricted” was taped to a front door.

“The facility has been closed and shall not have anyone onsite,” according to the city.

Bianchi said he wasn’t given a court date with the Ripple Bar closure. He’s hoping to reopen by June 5 with some help from the city.

“I’ll make sure I bring one of the department of health officials in to make sure I’m doing everything correct,” he said. “It’s a difficult time, it feels like the world is turned upside down.”

As for Sancho’s Broken Arrow, Bianchi has an Aug. 4 court date.