Awake, which became Denver’s first sober bar when it opened at 2240 North Clay Street last May, will go dormant while its owners look for a new location. The bar will temporarily close after August 21.
The concept functions as a coffee bar during the day and a non-alcoholic bar at night. Co-owner Billy Wynne says he and his wife Christy decided to open the stores a few years into their sobriety journey because “We wanted to contribute to the alcohol-free movement and create a space in Denver where people can come and have fun, feel safe and get some tasty drinks.”
The couple’s idea resonated with many others. “The community response was really incredible, so warm and loving,” notes Wynne. “After we opened, we were packed and we received hundreds of messages across social media and emails about how life-changing this space was.” The bar didn’t just attract attention here in Colorado; people from all over the country and the world began asking about opening their own Awake locations. The Wynnes have completed a franchise program and obtained the legal documents necessary to expand, but they want to focus on their primary location first.
Even with this overwhelming support, the company struggled to create a model that would sustain itself over the long term. As first-time business owners, the Wynnes have increasingly pushed their options and are now looking for support. “Things got more complex and we had to confront it more regularly,” Wynne admits. “We also have other professional pursuits in the family that we juggle. So we’re looking for some more expertise and capital to partner with to really make this all that it can be.”
In addition, the space Awake operates in now has some limitations and is relatively small for the growing company. There is little space for full events, such as live music, and the kitchen has limited space and can only produce a small menu. Furthermore, there is no dedicated parking and street parking is limited.
“There was a wide range of issues and a combination of things that made us think this is a good time to take a step back and take a breath,” explains Wynne. “We want to see, first, if some other people can come to the table and help us so we can figure out the best next steps.”
The couple hope to come back with an even bigger and better bar. They aim to have a larger space to house more community oriented events and private events in a separate space. “We want this to be a more wellness-oriented space, so there are more healthy food and drink options beyond what you would find at a bar,” adds Wynne. “We are considering doing programs during the day that expand the community, which would always be alcohol-free, so we can open some new channels for mindful living and experiences.”
Awake’s new location has not been determined yet, but the owners hope it will be in Denver, although they are not opposed to considering other options. There’s no concrete deadline for reopening, but the two aim to be operational again in January 2023. Until Awake closes, the entire bar menu and bottle shop will be 40 percent off.
Awake will be open at 2240 North Clay Street through August 21st. Its current opening hours are 7am to 12pm Monday and Tuesday, 7am to 10pm Wednesday to Friday, 8am to 10pm Saturday and Visit awakenenver.com for more information.