The Local newsletter is your free, daily guide to life in Colorado. For locals, by locals. Sign up today!
In the early 2000s, Carla Ladd found herself facing a secular crisis. “I needed to be around more people who look like me,” she says, “and the only place I was finding that was at church.” When Ladd searched for Black-owned businesses, however, she had trouble finding any—not because they didn’t exist, but because there was no easy way to locate them. Today, denverblackpages.com, the directory she launched in 2002, contains hundreds of listings that help countless people explore the metro area’s vibrant Black community.
Ladd added Little Black Book to her portfolio in 2019. The annual softcover guide goes beyond the website’s catalog of businesses and cultural events by also profiling entrepreneurs. Although intended in part for tourists to the Mile High City and older folks who don’t use the internet, the 2023 edition, which hits visitor centers, the airport, and other locations around Denver this month, boasts attractions even the most knowledgeable local will find sublime.
With authentic island dishes such as braised oxtails, slow-cooked jerk chicken, and curried goat—all drawn from co-owner Elizabeth Thompson-Barrett’s 20 years of experience owning restaurants in Jamaica—it’s no shock that this northeast Denver eatery has developed a loyal following. What is surprising is how fast it happened: The joint only opened its doors two and a half years ago during the height of the pandemic.
Denver DJ Kamau “Ktone’’ Chiku-Martinez’s nonprofit charity hosts pop-up block parties every summer to build community in neighborhoods affected by youth violence. Last May, the foundation didn’t just crank the music, it also helped children learn how to play it. During the inaugural Musik SoulChild Academy, 10 sixth- through ninth-graders from disenfranchised communities received free lessons from professional guitar instructors while counselors guided them through group exercises on emotional intelligence and self-expression.
This Denver butcher is known for its eponymous spicy sausages, but when longtime fans Kwame and Mkale Warner and Walter and Melanie Davis bought the 87-year-old brand in 2018, they spiced things up by opening the company’s first-ever storefront on Colorado Boulevard and by introducing Hatch-chile-and-bacon-stuffed BoomBoom bratwursts. They also tempered Gold Star’s reputation for wicked heat with a virtuous business model: Since 2020, they’ve donated 10 percent of the company’s sales to local nonprofits.