Left Hand and Liberati Locked in Lease Dispute Over Curtis Park Location
For the past five months, Curtis Park residents have likely seen changes taking place around the building that formerly housed Liberati Restaurant & Brewery. Most notable were the recent additions of an exterior coat of firehouse red paint and the application of a shiny new Left Hand Brewing sign affixed above the front door. However, what began as an opportunity for Left Hand to enter the Denver market with their own physical brewpub location in the former Liberati space, may now be dead.
Yesterday Alex Liberati, founder of the eponymous former Denver brewpub focused on wine-inspired oenobeers and owner of 12,000 sq ft building located at 2403 Champa Street, put the space back up for lease. This listing reflects a surprising turn as it was originally announced in March that the authentic Italian brewpub would abruptly close in light of an opportunity to lease the space to long time friend Eric Wallace, founder of Left Hand Brewing. But according to Liberati, the deal is no longer moving forward.
“We basically received communication from them (Left Hand) about two weeks ago, that they would be breaking the lease and walking away,” said Liberati. “The reason they listed was that they could not obtain a brewery license for the space.”
Meanwhile, Left Hand spokesperson, Jill Preston, paints a different picture of the current status of Left Hand’s Denver location.
“We do have a lease dispute currently that we are working through,” said Preston. “We are dedicated to being in the Denver area and more specifically in Curtis Park regardless of what happens with the Liberati space.”
While neither Liberati nor Left Hand could fully discuss details regarding the original terms of the deal, it was previously reported by Jonathan Shikes of the Westword, that Left Hand Brewing had planned on outsourcing kitchen operations to be run by former Liberati staff, retaining their brew system, and also exploring the possibility of producing a handful of wine-inspired oenobeers for its Curtis Park location.
And while it seems those opportunities are are less likely a possibility moving forward, Liberati did note that his work with cultivating oenobeers in America is likely to live on despite not having any definite plans in place.
“Oenobeers are still something that fascinates me personally so much,” said Liberati. “I’ve seen it starting to gain traction, and honestly, with this possibility here, I can re-think things from the start and figure out better ways to do what I was doing.”
In the meantime, Liberati has listed the space as immediately available for lease at $23 a square foot and hopes to find a brewery or restaurant partner to continue to serve the Curtis Park neighborhood. Currently, the building still houses a full kitchen and 7 bbl three-vessel brew system, however, all equipment is being kept on castors for quick removal if necessary. Liberati also noted that the kitchen could easily be converted into packaging space if a brewery so desired.
Meanwhile, in mid-May, Left Hand moved forward with an out-of-state partnership with Cincinnati brewpub Montgomery Public House, which is owned and operated by Jim Christmann, who is also Left Hand Brewing co-founder, Eric Wallace’s cousin. While Montgomery Public House produces its own in-house beers, it also exclusively carries Left Hand products as their permanent guest taps, creating somewhat of an East-Coast extension of the brewery.
We will continue to update the story as more information develops.