Rio Grande Plan for Patio Could Be Up the Creek!

Downtown has its share of destination restaurants and clubs. And, residents. Judging by the lines, especially on weekends, outside the Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant, 1525 Blake Street, it’s not surprising they would look for a way to expand.

Rules of Engagement

And, what better way than to quadruple the size of the outdoor patio…and their hours of operation. Back on February 16, an article at touted both the spring-like weather and Rio Grande’s plans for the new outdoor space. 3,300 square feet, heaters, walkways, space for a film projector, and “even an outdoor kitchen.” Specialty drinks would be served on the patio, described by Manager Derek Stoldt as being like an “urban campground.” Then, they started building. And, they are still building.

But, they neglected to secure the necessary permits and upgrades to their alcohol permits required by the city. They actually seemed to be unaware that their space changes would require a trip to the excise folks. The Lower Downtown Neighborhood Association (LoDoNA) brought that to their attention.

As always, with a new business, or a business change resulting in license changes, LoDoNA sought to come to an agreement with the business through its Good Neigbor Committee. Most establishiments in LoDo have agreements with the neighborhood relating to street noise, music, and outside areas affecting the residents of the area. In the case of the Rio Grande, which has been a good neighbor, LoDoNA simply wanted the Rio Grande to operate the new expanded patio in the way they operated the existing one – with restricted hours and no loud music. Rio Grande has refused to agree with any restrictions apart from a 1 a.m. closing time for the patio. (Until now, Rio Grande has posted its hours ending at 11 on Fridays and Saturdays, but now states on its website that new hours until midnight will start on April 29.)

The Neighborhood Association feels that Rio Grande’s current attitude means they want late crowds… loud. And, there are residential spaces literally a few feet from the patio.

Rio Grande presents its case for the necessary new permits on Friday, April 22. LoDoNA presents its opposing case, petitions and witnesses a week later on the 29th. With an agreement, though, LoDoNA would likely support the liquor permit.

That’s the way neighborhoods should work. Talk and reasonably agree. We all live here.