Denver dive bar Carioca Cafe and Bar — known by most as Bar Bar — needs help as it faces forced closures and new licensing requirements, grinding to a halt the live music events that have kept the place in business in recent years.
“We’ve scraped by through COVID shutdowns without a fundraiser, but now we really need your help,” wrote Richard Granville, organizer of a new, $10,000 campaign aimed at shoring up the beloved dive on the east end of downtown Denver, on a GoFundMe page.
Granville is a local musician and bartender at Bar Bar who launched his campaign on Monday. It’s already netted more than a third of its target funds, with $3,701 as of this writing and 87 individual backers.
All funds for the cash-only, century-old business will go to covering rent, utilities, and other basic bills; buying stock to sell at the bar; paying fees associated with required licensing for live music events; and finally, maintenance and renovations — “particularly what is necessary to meet the aforementioned licensing requirements,” Granville wrote.
Granville had not responded to requests for comment as of this writing, but Carioca’s mission is clear.
“We give a (crap) about supporting the local art scene because we’ve existed in Five Points for over 100 years,” according to the bar’s website.
Located at 2060 Champa St., Carioca is one of Denver’s last and, at this point, only freestanding dive bars, following the demolition of nationally known dive Shelby’s in 2019. Carioca Cafe has won numerous awards, including Westword’s “Denver’s Best Dive Bar,” and has for nearly two decades been known as a hangout for underground musicians and fans, punks, metalheads and others who embrace the gritty atmosphere, dirt-cheap drinks, and Old Denver camaraderie in an area surrounded by rampant gentrification and unhoused people.
“For pure sketch that’s about as good as it gets,” wrote a Reddit user in a thread about Denver dive bars.
Even in its current incarnation, Carioca has scaled down in recent years. As recently as 2010, its walls “were filled with hundreds of pictures of regulars — be they street people, musicians, artists, industry folks, fixed-income neighbors — and lots of incongruous tchotchkes,” Denver Post columnist Bill Husted wrote a the time.
“Bar Bar seats 70, but can handle 125. It’s the same size and the mirror image of nearby El Chapultepec,” he wrote. (El Chapultepec is also, sadly, closed as of 2020.)
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