It’s been a wild 20 months for Niya and Grant Gingerich, the owners of Local 46—and not just for the typical pandemic-related reasons.
Last fall, the pair announced that the Berkeley bar would close at the end of October 2020 because their lease for the space was set to end, and the building owners were considering demolishing it. A few months later, a developer backed out of a deal to buy the space, and the owners allowed Niya and Grant to reopen Local 46 for one more summer. As of a few weeks ago, the last call appeared like it was finally imminent.
“It’s just been such a roller coaster,” Niya says. “There’s this element of trying to stay strong and hopeful as a leader, and then you just have moments of despair because you don’t know what is going to happen.”
It turns out, however, that the roller coaster ride has one more banked turn. The building owners ultimately sold the property to another group of developers, Alpine Investment and Revesco Properties, who don’t plan on modifying the space for at least a year, according to Niya. Recently, they extended the opportunity for Local 46 to continue operating, possibly through the new year—and potentially even longer.
The Gingerichs jumped at the opportunity to keep Local 46 alive, if even for just a little bit longer. They had been looking for a new location to open up a similar community-focused bar, and had even been in conversations to take over the old El Chapultepec Too building on West 38th Avenue. While the old El Chapultepec Too location could still be the next move, it’s proven more expensive than they originally thought.
“We had a whole design,” Niya says. “We had a permit from the city. But we got the bids back and they were through the roof. It is still very much a possibility, but we had to kind of back off.”
It still remains somewhat unclear how Niya and Grant will use the extra time at the original Local 46 location. Live concerts will continue at the outside beer garden through October, including what was supposed to be a farewell party featuring local alt-country band The Reals on Halloween weekend. After that, the music will either move inside, or there’s a possibility that some sort of structure could be built on the outdoor patio to aid viewing during the colder months.
You can bet that the bar’s many passionate fans will find a way to make one last pilgrimage. Last September, when Local 46 announced its initial faux closing date on Facebook, 255 people responded with farewell notes and stories about how much the bar meant to them. “So sad!” said one commenter. “You are all such an important part of what made Denver and my Berkeley neighborhood so special. I’ve met so many truly amazing friends at Local 46.” Another frequent patron added: “You were one of the last OG Tennyson establishments. You will be greatly missed!”
Niya has been touched by the outpouring of support for the space. Even though they’ve been given some more time to keep the drinks and tunes flowing, she is also thinking of ways to preserve something from Local 46.
“It’s been really beautiful to see what an anchor that we’ve become for the community. It’s always what I wanted the place to be,” Niya says. “I am overcome with emotions every time I sit under that huge tree in the beer garden. It breaks my heart to think it might be gone. I am thinking of asking the developer if we can chop it down, so we can make an alternative bar top for wherever we go next.”