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It’s a headline we know all too well: “Beloved Business Closes in Five Points.” Last month, Coffee at the Point permanently closed after a six-month hiatus. Moods Beats Potions shuttered its doors last July, and the iconic Welton Street Cafe left its over two-decade-old location at 2736 Welton Street last March, although the shop is set to reopen at a new storefront one block north sometime this year.
The shuttered businesses—several of which are related to tenants’ ongoing legal battles with an alleged predatory landlord—add to the sting of a difficult past few years for the historically Black neighborhood, which has faced gentrification on top of pandemic-related challenges. Despite those closures, though, Denver’s Five Points neighborhood forges ahead as two new spots are set to open in the next 60 days.
After more than a year of delays caused by unexpected permitting, licensing, and construction roadblocks, the Marigold is set to open at 2721 Welton Street by the end of the month. Part plant shop, part cocktail bar, Five Points’ newest addition is managed by an eight-person team, including Sudy Kudva and Genevieve Shifrin. Kudva is no stranger to business ownership, considering his local hospitality portfolio includes 715 Club, the Matchbox, and Gold Point. Compared to those establishments, the Marigold serves a greener, more lush take on the swanky, industrial-chic bar concept; Denverites can sip from its gin-forward menu of drinks while perusing the vast selection of monsteras, cacti, and snake plants for sale.
“You start getting cool concepts in Five Points, which I think Marigold is, and people will start coming in,” says Kudva. “I don’t want people to just stop by Marigold and then go straight over to Larimer Street. We’ve got Cervantes’ [Masterpiece Ballroom], Mimosas, and Duke’s [Good Sandwiches]; there’s so many ways to spend a whole day here.”
Along with its assortment of greenery and boozy drinks, Marigold has three stages for live music shows on its roomy rooftop patio overlooking Welton. Plus, Marigold’s owners hope to partner with other businesses to offer terrarium-building classes, yoga events, and jazz nights.
“We have an incredible opportunity right now to keep building our community on Welton Street,” Shifrin says. “We all live in the neighborhood, this is our home. We’re excited to continue to build this inclusive community that people want to visit.”
In addition to the Marigold, retail grocer and deli Little Bodega is set to open in March at the corner of Welton and 22nd streets. There, you’ll find deli sandwiches, snacks, ice cream, and household goods. Natasha Butler, owner of Little Bodega, says she decided to open the space after moving to Colorado from New York City and realizing Denver’s lack of independently owned corner markets. Butler not only lives in the Five Points area, but says that, as someone who is half Black, she wants to work out of a more historically diverse neighborhood. “I would love to see more Black business owners around here, which is why it’s so important for me to open a business here,” she says.
Butler officially leased her space last February and, for the past year, has struggled to singlehandedly navigate the city’s complex, wishy-washy permit system, which requires 16 inspections across 8 municipal departments. While the red tape has required her to push back Little Bodega’s opening timeline, Butler is finally putting the finishing touches on her storefront.
She hopes that Little Bodega will provide affordable sustenance to Five Points, which has historically lacked options for healthy food that are accessible without a car. “It’s going to be a hybrid convenience store and sandwich shop, which is really similar to a New York bodega,” Butler says. “You can come in and get snacks and a drink and also a carry out sandwich. I really want it to be a stop for essentials.”
Established neighborhood joints are also feeling the spirit of newness. Goed Zuur recently revamped its tasting program this past October. The five-year-old Welton Street taproom, which has become a local hub in Five Points for sour beer and cheeses, was briefly closed in October 2022 when its owners decided to remove a portion of its bar to double the kitchen space, a move driven by an increased demand for food options, says general manager Rachel Smith.
“We used to have a chef’s counter where we offered tastings, and eventually we just ended up ditching it,” Smith says. “We’ve brought that back now, and we’ve gotten great feedback so far. People love having a one-on-one experience with Chef Anthony [Lopiccolo].”
The dinner series, dubbed Tasting at Chef’s Counter, runs Thursday through Saturday and includes a five-course menu paired with ales and wines. The experience costs $85 per person and can be booked through Tock. Despite the success from the recent changes, Smith still says Goed Zuur is experiencing the same challenges restaurants across the state have faced since the pandemic.
“We’re feeling the same things most others are feeling in Denver.” Smith says. “Regardless, we’re lucky to be a destination location, so people do still travel to come to us. That being said, I’d really like to be more of a neighborhood spot, and I’m excited to see businesses open near us.”
Those challenges largely stem from rising supply costs and continued pandemic recovery. Haroun Cowans, founder of Goshen Development, a development firm focused on affordable housing, recently became board chair of the Five Points Business Improvement District in early January.
“We can’t ignore that there have been significant challenges with businesses closing,” Cowans says. “But it’s exciting to see two businesses opening, and it’s a continued effort to ensure sustainability for the businesses already there.”
According to a 2022 survey by the National Federation of Independent Business, an association of small businesses owners across the country, over 70 percent of employers reported that rising fuel and inventory costs have affected their operations. Because of inflation across the board, 86 percent of small employers are increasing the prices of their products.
Still, LaSheita Sayer, principal of ZoZo Marketing Group and a longtime Five Points business owner, is optimistic about the future of the neighborhood.
“We just had all of these new high-density housing projects be completed, and now we need those services to cater to those folks,” Sayer says. “That’s where all of this opportunity comes in. Five Points is this cool place with a rich cultural history where people want to live, and new residents need places to eat.”
Plus, Sayer mentions, the Welton Street corridor is home to independent businesses only. This month, that spirit of community will be on full display as those shops work with one another, in partnership with the Five Points Business Improvement District, to assemble the Jazz Roots Event Series. On Saturdays February 18 and February 25, celebrate jazz history and Black history with a full event lineup including free dance classes, poetry slams, cocktails, and live music along Welton Street.
“Five Points should be known for its entrepreneurial small businesses, and it’s a place all people should come enjoy,” Cowans says. “It’s an exciting time, and I’m very optimistic about the future of the neighborhood.”