The LIV Denver Jazz Club could come to LoDo

Market Street may soon be home to a high-end jazz venue, five blocks from legendary, now defunct El Chapultepec.

On May 3, a Denver Department of Excise and Licensing The hearing officer recommended that the proposed venue, LIV Denver, be given a liquor license with authorization for a dance cabaret at 1448 Market Street, the home of many other clubs in the past.

But Hearing Officer Ryan H. Brand also recommended that certain restrictions be placed on the license. The biggest focus on noise levels, when and where amplified music can be allowed, when patrons can dance and the requirements of security guards.

Molly Duplechian, executive director of the Department of Excise and Licensing, will have the final say on whether LIV Denver, which is believed to be owned and operated by Yimaj “Steve” Kalifa, a Washington, DC-based restaurateur, will receive its license. According to the recommended ruling, Kalifa testified at a liquor license hearing on April 15 that he intended to operate LIV Denver as an “upscale jazz bar and lounge,” with a ” jazz show up to twice a night”. Kalifa also plans to serve brunch, lunch, and dinner, and offer cocktails throughout the day.

“Mr. Kalifa expects to serve excellent but expensive food, and expects his customers to be those 55 and older,” Brand noted in his post, adding that Kalifa is under contract to purchase the building.

The recommended permit restrictions could help alleviate some of the concerns expressed by neighbors at the permit hearing; they said they feared the club would have security and nuisance issues like those that plagued former tenant Dorchester Social and other venues operated by people connected to Dorchester Social, such as neighbor Mojito coffee and the now closed beta.

“Despite these concerns, the plaintiff is not the Mojito Cafe, and certainly not Dorchester or Beta. As established by the plaintiff, it is targeting a very different type of business from those licensees. Mr. Kalifa testified credibly.The applicant will offer high-end cuisine at an equally high price, and will offer brunch, lunch and dinner.Dancing will be limited, special event permits will be requested as needed, and the music played by the applicant will be jazz and blues performed or played at reasonable volumes and intended to contribute to its dining room and living room atmosphere,” Brand wrote.

Don Ku, Chairman of the Good Neighbor Committee for the Downtown Lower Neighborhood Association, helped craft the various restrictions Brand recommended to put in place. But he acknowledges that some neighbors still don’t want any type of cabaret-style venue in this building, which is owned by Ray Jafari.

“It’s been vacant for a while now. Having someone to fill that space is good. Having someone say it won’t be a nightclub is also good. We don’t know never, if we reject these guys, the next person who wants it might want it to be a nightclub,” says Ku, who lives nearby.

According to the agreement with LoDoNA, LIV Denver will have to keep all amplified audio on its second-story terrace at background level and ensure that all outside speakers and music are turned off by 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday nights. and at 11 p.m. on Friday. and Saturdays. The door leading to 15th Street must be kept closed.

Those same negotiations led Brand to demand that LIV Denver could only allow patrons to dance at special events with advance notice for LoDoNA. And the site will have to employ licensed security guards on weekends between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.

“If he wants to buy the building, he wants to remain a fixture in lower downtown for a while,” Ku says. “He wants to build good relationships. There’s nothing to suggest to us and LoDoNA that because the previous owner acted one way, the new owner will act that way.”

El Chapultepec, Denver’s decades-long jazz mecca at 1962 Market Street, closed permanently in 2020.

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