Old-fashioned block party; Rifle’s Ute Theater patio to open for alcohol service
With the outdoor “Thursday Patio Music Series” offered by the Ute Theater continuing to grow in popularity, venue officials asked Rifle City Council on June 16 to extend their liquor license out to East Fourth Street.
“If (patrons) happen to carry a beverage out with them,” Theater Director Wayne Pleasants said, “we want them to be able to do that.”
The outdoor concert series, which has already featured acts of Nu-Blu, Stone Kitchen and The Brothers, is attracting between 85 to 125 people a night, Pleasants said.
“It’s helped our revenue sources as far as the bar goes,” Pleasants said. “And we’re averaging about $10 to $15 a cover.”
A motion eventually passed unanimously for the Ute to receive a “temporary modification of premises,” which essentially expands the venue’s existing liquor license area outside.
The outdoor parameters for legal alcoholic beverage sales extend from the nearby Alpine Bank drive-thru to the handicap ramp beside the Rifle Heritage Center on West Avenue, Pleasants said. The new area is about about 72-by-132 feet.
“Class 3” barricades, at the request of Rifle Police Chief Tommy Klein, will be erected, while signage will be strategically placed to direct traffic.
Before the vote, however, City Council directed some concerns toward motor traffic causing congestion at the Alpine Bank drive-thru.
“My wonder was there are times — as I know you know — when that drive-thru backs up pretty heavily, and so asking someone to try to go through the drive-thru without needing to do business there at times can be a challenge,” council member Theresa Hamilton said.
Pleasants said traffic congestion in that area typically occurs on Friday night and sometimes Saturday morning. East Fourth Street, meanwhile, will not close to traffic until after 5:30 p.m. The concert series usually runs from 6-9 p.m.
The temporary modification will be in place until Dec. 31. Pleasants said the Ute’s outdoor concert series won’t implement the extended liquor license until the nearby downtown construction infrastructure project is complete.
Once they officially pop the top, the Ute hopes the added amenity will help drum up more business for everyone downtown.
“We may be able to extend our breadth somewhat and also hopefully help the businesses,” he said. “I know last Thursday there were something like 30 pizzas bought. People are bringing over salads from the restaurants and sitting and listening. So, hopefully, it’s helping some of the Third Street businesses.”
If popularity continues to grow, Pleasants said the theater’s board, the New Ute Theatre Society, will again come before the council in early 2022.
Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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