El Diablo and Sketch will remain closed this weekend

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This is not what El Diablo looks like tonight.
Happy hour will not be very happy today at El Diablo and Sketch tonight. The restaurants remain closed, after the city slapped the building in which they're housed, the First Avenue Hotel, with a notice to vacate very early on Tuesday, July 10. According to the city, the structure is unsafe. According to owner Jesse Morreale, it's as safe as it was when the city allowed the restaurants to open two years ago.

Morreale bought the decrepit, circa 1905 building four years ago with a grand plan to resurrect it into a focal point on Broadway. The Denver Office of Economic Development gave him two loans to help realize his plans, which involved a major renovation of the main floor into two restaurant spaces, as well as retail areas; Morreale put his office on the second floor. Fixing up the building's upper floors -- which had been unoccupied for decades, except by pigeons, rats and bums -- were left for a later time.

Both Sketch and El Diablo opened under a temporary occupancy permit, and Morreale and Dan Roberts, then the director of Development Services for the Denver Department of Community Planning and Neighborhood Services, came up with a plan to allow continued occupancy of 101 Broadway. That plan went through several revisions, with the most recent iteration (that I can find, at least), dated August 2011, and calling for certain "work to be performed within 18 months of restaurant opening in order to prevent designation as UNSAFE." But Roberts did not stay with the city long after Michael Hancock became mayor, and at some point, according to Andrea Burns, spokeswoman for Community Planning, after a "long history of the city and the owner working together to figure things out," Morreale "didn't keep to the plan."

After that long history of working together, the city didn't contact him about any concerns, Morreale says -- until he found his building plastered with the notices to vacate on Tuesday morning.

There's been plenty of communication since then, however. Morreale met with Denver officials on Wednesday morning and again on Thursday afternoon, and his lawyer, former city attorney David Fine, has continued to push the city to find a way to allow the restaurants to reopen this weekend, creating tax revenues for the city...and paychecks for employees. "Why not put the parties back in and work out any issues while the businesses operate?" he asks.


But the restaurants remain dark. And this weekend, Morreale posted a notice on El Diablo and Sketch:

DUE TO CIRCUMSTANCES BEYOND OUR CONTROL, AND THROUGH NO FAULT OF OUR OWN, THE RESTAURANTS WILL BE CLOSED THIS WEEKEND - JULY 13TH THROUGH JULY 15TH, 2012. WE APOLOGIZE FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE AND LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR RETURN ONCE THE RESTAURANTS ARE REOPENED FOR BUSINESS AND OUR DEDICATED STAFF IS ALLOWED TO RETURN BACK TO THEIR JOBS. HELP US SAVE THE RESTAURANTS, PLEASE GO TO WWW.SAVEELDIABLOANDSKETCH.COM


Location Info

El Diablo - CLOSED

101 Broadway, Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Sketch Food & Wine - CLOSED

11 W. 1st Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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20 comments
Baker for Life
Baker for Life

I appluad Jesse for converting the spaces and adding some activity and street life on a corner that has been dark and full of squatters for years. That said, like or not, rules are rules. You can't fight city hall. Initially all of us neighborhood residents were really excited about El Diablo but the truth be told,  food is mediocre and come with LoDo prices...the drinks too. In a town that has really good Mexican food, it doesn't stand up.  While most of us in the neighborhood don't go there regulalrly, I think we'd all rather see Jesse operating and charging the hipsters and people visiting from the burbs his unreal prices rather than see the corner go dark again.

Some guy
Some guy

If Alex knows Jesse so intimately as to be privy to an alleged drug addiction, his attack would seem to be a personal one rather than based on the real status of the structure, or if Jesse indeed squandered City money...  juss sayin'.

Some guy
Some guy

Knocked up?  Last I checked, it still takes two to tango, Alex.  However, finding these comments is unexpected; very interesting and compelling.  Wonder what the truth is? 

Carolyne Janssen
Carolyne Janssen

Sorry Chris, but you should stick to issues in Manchester. This building is unsafe and had you been in it if it collapsed, you'd be singing a different tune about Denver for sure, and we Denver taxpayers would be footing the bill to pay for your settlement with the city of Denver for not protecting you. 

Some guy
Some guy

Is Sean Yontz still involved with El Diablo ??

Guest2
Guest2

Agreed.  His saveeldiablo....com website should have all of his agreements available for viewing so that the specific infractions and his agreements can be cited to persuade the City to keep these buildings open. Unless he's hiding something. Frankly, we trust building inspectors and City officials as public servants more than we trust self-interested business people who don't want to fully disclose the situation.

Guest
Guest

In fairness to all parties, shouldn't the debate be whether or not the building is really structurally unsafe to dine at NOT whether or not Jesse is a douche?

Alex K
Alex K

Fuck Jesse. He knocked up friend.

Karen the Kommenter
Karen the Kommenter

Jesse is a coke snorting asshat who is cheap as fuck so he can support his drinking and drug addiction. Sketch is a total rip off and El Diablo is just a bar for hipsters that serves over priced burritos. Hipsters will always find a job, or go live with their parents in The Ranch. Only people who are losing out are the Mexicans in the kitchen, but its summer and there is always Home Depot. Jesse is kind of like the honey badger, he don't give a fuck. Maybe the city should slap him with a few more fines to get that money back. You can shit in one hand or ask the city for money. You will probably get the money first till the other hand throws the poo at you. Cocaine is a hellofa drug. Keep it going Jesse. Dont stop.

Mr Radish!
Mr Radish!

Support from the United Kingdom! As a visitor to you fantastic city 15 months ago, let me add my view. 1. A character building that modern Denver should never lose. It is your history and I hope the plan is not to demolish and rebuild. 2. It seems that the City Authorities is acting in a completely unreasonable manner, whilst businesses close their doors and workers stay home......the is a world economic crisis. Get real! 3. El Diablo does a damn fine cocktail, especially the Diablotini. I hope when I return both the building and the businesses are there to take my money. Good luck! Chris from Manchester, England.

Backatcha
Backatcha

Boom!  Ask and you receive!

Patrick
Patrick

I'm a vendor whom Jesse failed to pay after he closed down Tambien. I have a judgement against him from the court. No, I do not own the Hornet.

Observer
Observer

I've never been to his restaurants and don't know him.  It looks to me like the City made concessions to give him time and loaned him lots of taxpayer money in a down economy when nobody else was lending.  Then he sat on his ass and milked the business without following through on his promises.  Now he's trying to wage a PR war by calling himself successful and a "job creator."  Yeah, take that to the bank and try to get a commercial loan.  Good luck with that. Fuck him.  I hope the City takes his buildings and auctions them off to pay for his deadbeat ass, and then goes after his personal home and cars.

SOBO
SOBO

What?  Do you own the Hornet?  It sounds like you are a competitor. 

Patrick
Patrick

It sounds like Jesse's attitude, carelessness and reputation is catching up with him. What we are reading is only what is on the surface- I'm sure there will be more to come. There are THOUSANDS of restaurants in this city doing just fine with their permits- I agree Bob. He couldn't cry any louder. Save El Diablo and Sketch? I don't think so, if they don't go down now- they will go down soon. Vendors beware- Jesse doesn't like to pay after he closes shop. Look at the history and city court records behind Tambien dba Sketch. Hey Westword I know he pays for advertising but you also have a responsibility to dig a little deeper on this. He is one paying customer but you have MANY other paying customers who choose to abide by the rules of the industry. I keep reading about Jesse's "great" reputation and "good will" -- Westword- take a field trip down to the city court and look it up. What does the city court say about his "good will" not to pay his vendors?

Wasted Space is a cock
Wasted Space is a cock

None of this has anything to do with what might be or not be real issues. Sounds like you just don't line because you think he is arrogant. What an asshole you are Wasted Space...if you don't like his places, don't go there. Otherwise, shut your fucking pie hole!!

bob
bob

I don't think the city is at fault here. A business owner is responsible for making sure the permits(liquor,occupancy,fire,etc) are in order and correct. It's not the citys responsibility to do it for him. It's a TEMPORARY occupancy permit. Does the owner not understand what the word temporary means? It's too bad his workers have to suffer because of his carelessness

WastedSpace
WastedSpace

This is completely legitimate.  Jesse has a poor reputation around the neighborhood for being arrogant, among other things.  Several local business owners know he is a jerk who tried to steam-roll the city.  The City loaned him $5 million to get this building cleaned up, and he spent it on illegal workers and contractors who didn't even bother to get a work permit.  He didn't bother to get an occupancy permit for the areas he was occupying.  Denver actually did a fine job by giving him a time-line which he agreed to.  In other words, they felt the building would have to be repaired within "x" number of months before becoming unhabitable.  He continually refuses to lease the space above him or complete the full terms of the agreement, thereby devaluing the property around him.  What an asshole.  The service sucks and the food is mediocre at best.  His bar staff is always wasted and slow, especially at Sketch.  Sketch itself is a complete rip-off and I pretty much refuse to go there - not to mention the equally annoying music which is always at "Blue Ice" volume.  What a shit-show.  Boot his girly cheap ass out of here.  

Joey B
Joey B

Claaaaaaaasic City of Denver.

my two cents
my two cents

Jesse is a good guy who has personally created dozens of decent paying jobs. How sad these shitheads at the City of Denver are letting their egos get in the way of common sense. My advice is that the mayor and city council rep need to get involved and tell the City Building Inspectors to work out a reasonable compromise and re-open these businesses ASAP. 

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