Don't keep this under your hat: Why the Tavern Downtown sometimes bans ballcaps

nohats0094.jpg
Kyle Garratt
Hats off at the Tavern Downtown on Fridays and Saturdays after 9 p.m.
After reading comments about hats, even ballcaps, being prohibited at the Tavern Downtown -- which seemed ironic for a joint that had just been named Sports Bar of the Year by the national Nightclub & Bar -- I contacted Frank Schultz, the founder of the Tavern Hospitality Group that owns the Tavern Downtown, to get the scoop.

Schultz has had a bar at 1949 Market Street for close to fifteen years; the space got its start as the Soiled Dove, a dueling piano bar. "Part of why I've been there since 1997 is that we're constantly morphing and adapting," says Schultz. "Not just from a construction standpoint, but from an operations standpoint."

And operating in LoDo can be challenging -- as evidenced by years of problems on the streets and parking lots in the 1900 block of Market and Blake streets, problems that sometimes escalated into violence around Let-Out, problems that Westword has documented over and over in cover stories.

In fact, a half-dozen years ago, Schultz was wondering if it was time to get out of that part of town. "Things were pretty bad," he remembers. But when he heard that the space at 1941 Market was going to be available, Schultz decided to go in the other direction, "to invest more in the area, invest in the future." So in 2006 he redid the downstairs of what was now known as the Tavern Downtown (the Soiled Dove moved to Lowry), in 2007 he bought the Cowboy Lounge next door, and in 2009 he did a massive remodel of the upstairs, with a deck that now goes across both clubs.

"I definitely think it's been an up-and-down cycle," he says of the LoDo neighborhood. "I think it's at its best now. There have been some poor operators; when you have that, it takes the whole area down." But these days, he says, his neighbors are seasoned operators, pros.

And yes, one of Schultz's moves there was to institute a dress code -- on Friday and Saturday nights only, when the Tavern Downtown turns into more of a nightclub. "We want to protect the clientele we have in here," Schultz explains. "To do that, we've adopted a no-hat and pants-pulled-up policy on Fridays and Saturdays only after 9 p.m., to keep the atmosphere positive. We understand that we're a sports bar by Coors Field, and it was a tough decision to make.... We just do the best we can for the area."

Want to keep your hat on after the game? You can wear it at any of the other Tavern bars -- there are six spread across town. And come May, the Tavern Littleton will open its doors. While the two Lodo spots are definitely in an entertainment district, the rest of the Taverns are in neighborhoods, "and we definitely try to adapt to the neighborhood," Schultz says. At Lowry, for example, the feel is "more family. We're not open as late; there's more focus on the food specials." The Lowry location is 60 percent food/40 percent liquor sales; the Tavern Downtown comes closer to 5 percent food/95 percent liquor.

Littleton will be like Wash Park, a "friendly neighborhood tavern" in an established neighborhood. "In the bar business," he says, "if you're in a neighborhood and do it right, you can have longevity."

Especially if your regulars don't flip their lids over no-hats policies.

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Location Info

The Tavern Downtown

1949 Market St., Denver, CO

Category: Music

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12 comments
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roertbrookes
roertbrookes

The actuality that the blush Orange fits able-bodied with all added colors asserts you can abrasion it with any accoutrement you feel like. Work Boots

matt hughes
matt hughes

please keep in mind that schultz is a bully and moron. racist comments from this blowhard are no surprise.

Jay
Jay

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely hate it when dudes wear baseball hats in real restaurants. However, a self-proclaimed sports bar littered with TVs + bar games, serving drinks in small plastic cups and located across the street from a baseball stadium is exactly the type of place where baseball caps are appropriate.Additionally, what’s the deal with the watered down drinks in 8 oz. Dixie cups? Is that also to protect the clientele? Don’t want anybody getting buzzed and having fun? The bottom line is The Downtown Tavern is simply a contrived chain bar carefully designed to manipulate people into pissing away money. Every time I leave the Tavern, I feel sober and taken advantage of. It’s not a bar people go to regularly. It’s a place that people go 1-2 times per year by default because of the location, i.e.:“Meet me at the Tavern 20 minutes before first pitch so I can give you your ticket.”“We’re meeting at the Tavern at 9PM for Ashley from Littleton’s ‘big night in the city’ 27th birthday celebration!” The Downtown Tavern is the best sports bar in the country as much as The Broker is the best restaurant in the country.

Jay's friend
Jay's friend

Right on, Jay, right on. A "bar" that serves alcohol in plastic is not a proper bar. It's an overpriced picnic with people I don't like or a stadium without live sports. Either way, it sucks ass.

No shirt, no shoes, no service
No shirt, no shoes, no service

Sorry, but "hat wearing douche" isn't a Constitutionally protected class. You'll just have to suffer the sun in your eyes or rain on your head on Friday and Saturday nights at the Tavern.

5280MAN
5280MAN

I'm all for the concept of "go somewhere else if you're not welcome. They just aren't the best Sportsbar then.

DenverScener
DenverScener

If you are at the Tavern on a Friday or Saturday Night you are most definitely a Douche.

Beavis
Beavis

Explain to me again why they're so concerned about "gang activity" at a place, from the pictures, that's whiter than a Sarah Palin rally...

5280MAN
5280MAN

Umm, so if I exit a Saturday night Rockies game wearing my ballcap the Tavern would either have me take off my hat or go elsewhere? And Schultz says " we definitely try to adapt to the neighborhood,". Well, in this case you are in the Ball Park Neighborhood where people are going to ball games wearing ball caps, so I think some adaptation is in order. Although I must say, after Frank's comments, I do feel safer with no ball cap wearing terrorists around me. Thanks Frank!

calhounp
calhounp

Yes, cowboy hats are banned. Didn't mention that, because commenters seemed concerned about baseball caps.

Jay
Jay

"We want to protect the clientele we have in here"

Ummm, please elaborate. Protect clientele from what exactly? Looking at the above picture, the Car Toys salesman wearing the Tapout shirt, who pretends to be an MMA fighter after 3 Bud Lights, is still present.

DenverScener
DenverScener

Are Cowboy hats banned?These "dress codes" are clearly racist and classicist. They are simply designed to keep away blacks, mexicans, or any other "urban" group out of the bars.

"We want to protect the clientele we have in here," Schultz explains. "To do that, we've adopted a no-hat and pants-pulled-up policy on Fridays and Saturdays only after 9 p.m., to keep the atmosphere positive." - Protect from what? Are hats negative?

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