Denvers first sober bar, Awake, will close in Jefferson Park

First-time hospitality-business owners Billy and Christy Wynne were overwhelmed with support when they opened Awake, an entirely alcohol-free bar, in the spring of 2021.

Now the Wynnes are asking fans of their brand to rally once again as they close down Awake’s first location and look for another sober bar space. Their last day in business at 2240 N. Clay St. will be on Sunday, Aug. 21, and they haven’t found a new location yet.

“We’re very much committed to reopening the space in Denver,” Billy Wynne told The Denver Post. “Part of this is regrouping a bit to cultivate some more capital and bring some new expertise to the table to help us figure out how to make this the best possible thing in its next iteration.”

For Awake’s next iteration, the Wynnes hope to find a space with a bigger kitchen for food production, more storage for the onsite bottle shop, room for live-music performances beyond solo acoustic sets, and spaces for customers to park. But first they are seeking out business partners, from investors to restaurateurs, to help make the move a lasting one.

“Neither Christy nor I had any legitimate restaurant or bar experience before opening Awake,” Billy explained. “So we think that the best way for Awake to come back is with stronger restaurant and bar expertise at the table, and with a group of people who can really manage the day-to-day better than I can.”

Together with a small team, the Wynnes opened Awake in May 2021, following their own two-year journey with sobriety.

“Neither of us went through a traditional recovery program,” Billy said. “And we’ve found (through the bar) that there is a really diverse group of people among those who don’t drink. Maybe that shouldn’t be surprising, but it has been energizing and very much a learning experience.”

He believes they’ve proven their concept after the first 15 months; after all, Awake has received more than 100 inquiries about new U.S. and international branches. But before any expansion, the bar and coffee shop has to work in Denver, where the Wynnes are based.

And, maybe not surprisingly, the first step for the Wynnes now is admitting their own limitations in operating an alcohol-free space.

“We need some help,” Billy said.

For more information about Awake’s last weeks in Jefferson Park, and its future in Denver, visit awakedenver.com.

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