Englewood's Barnhouse Tap bar aims to 'redefine Broadway'

Local owners want businesses to foster 'community spirit' on thoroughfare

Posted 3/11/19

Picture a lower South Broadway in Englewood where pedestrians leisurely walk and bike, a farmer's market doles out food in an open lot, art covers more building walls and a rooftop patio shows …

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Englewood's Barnhouse Tap bar aims to 'redefine Broadway'

Local owners want businesses to foster 'community spirit' on thoroughfare

Posted

Picture a lower South Broadway in Englewood where pedestrians leisurely walk and bike, a farmer's market doles out food in an open lot, art covers more building walls and a rooftop patio shows patrons mountain views.

That vision isn't complete yet, but Jason Sakry and Dagan Thomas say they've taken a dead patch on South Broadway and given it life again.

“We'd love to have Englewood influence on the Broadway renewal,” said Sakry, a former Englewood Schools Board of Education member. “We just want to encourage local businesses and community members to redefine Broadway as the renewal moves south from Denver.”

The wave of redevelopment can be a good thing for the neighborhood, argues Sakry, an Englewood resident who co-owns a multi-unit business property on the 4300 block of South Broadway, near Quincy Avenue.

“We met on the school board,” said Thomas, also a former board member and Englewood resident. “We jokingly said, `Hey, what if we developed a block?' ”

The rest, it appears, is history in motion: The two started Working Capital, a property management company that owns the building where they opened Barnhouse Tap, a bar on the long stretch of Broadway south of Hampden Avenue that's home to a hodgepodge of businesses.

But the local partners hope they can forge a neighborhood identity on the block just a mile south of the downtown Englewood area of Broadway, where new bars and restaurants have redefined the face of the historic 3400 block.

And their first stab at that goal keeps in mind what Sakry called the atmosphere of “a small town surrounded by the big city.”

“We want businesses to foster that community spirit — neighbors meeting neighbors,” said Sakry, 41, as opposed to establishments that serve the passing traffic. “We want to encourage people to spend time at a place (with) face-to-face connection.

“It's been cool to see how many of our customers live within a few blocks,” Sakry said.

The bar's building materials themselves carry a sense of community. Sakry's friend in Minnesota had a barn, and Sakry, Thomas and a team helped tear it down over two months and took materials back to Englewood. The wood at Barnhouse Tap comes from that barn, and the tin on the bar and patio once was the barn's roofing.

The sweeping, barn-themed mural on the side of the building — easily among the most notable features of Broadway for miles around — also comes with an added thrust of meaning.

It's a nod to “embrace that Englewood is an art town,” Thomas, 41, said. Along with murals on the other side of Broadway, the partners hope the block can keep “battling beige” and liven up the thoroughfare.

But they're also thinking bigger: They aim to contribute to a more pedestrian- and bike-friendly Englewood, hoping to dovetail with potential changes to encourage a more active Broadway corridor.

“We want to make Broadway more walkable again,” Sakry said. “We want an easy and approachable place for Swedish (Medical Center) and Craig (Hospital) workers … bike paths, encouraging more walking.”

He referenced a “healthy corridors” effort by the Urban Land Institute, a network of real-estate industry experts that has studied potential for better development in Englewood. A ULI panel gave advice on improving the Broadway corridor, including public improvements like bicycle connections in the downtown area.

“More people are trying to figure out how they can live without cars,” Sakry said, adding he and Thomas are waiting to hear from Lime — once known as LimeBike — a company that has offered bike and electric-scooter rentals. “If people go up and down Broadway on scooters, it feels different. Why couldn't Englewood be the next up-and-coming spot? We want to inspire that … with people investing in their community.”

For now, kids' use of the vacant lot next to Barnhouse Tap for throwing football or flying discs is an optimistic sign of the potential for community spirit, Sakry said. If farmers' markets took place on the lot, that would align with the “healthy corridors” suggestions the ULI discussed about a year ago, Thomas said. And the partners hope for a restaurant, perhaps one interested in a rooftop patio, as a tenant for a part of their building that becomes available later this year.

Some outsiders who decided to drop in to Barnhouse on an early March afternoon were Grant Dawkins, 29, and Katy Robinson, 28, both from Denver. They came for the first time after hearing about the bar from friends who enjoyed it, Robinson said.

“It feels," Dawkins said, "really homey.”

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