Colfax & Downing

Everything you need to know about the Mile High City

Tag: Five Points

Rossonian Front Door

The Rossonian Hotel

Hi. We’re alive! Forgive our pointless absence. Clare has been working longer hours than usual and we recently traveled to see friends tie the knot, moved all of our belongings into a new place and generally settling into lazy autumn evenings with Crockpot dinners and Netflix. We just finished Bloodline and Narcos. Recommendations?

Let’s talk about the Rossonian. I took these photos on a foggy morning a few weeks ago but have admired the structure since we moved to Denver two years ago. The Rossonian was built in 1912 as a hotel but it became known for its bar and live jazz scene. Our city was still a majorly racist place in those years and black musicians like Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and more were commissioned to perform at other venues in Denver proper but couldn’t stay in the hotels because of their skin. Accommodations at the Rossonian, and Five Points in its entirety, welcomed them. The bar soon became famous for its late night performances by nationally-known singers and jazz artists. It’s not a coincidence that the Five Points Jazz Festival folds around the streets surrounding this hotel every year.

Rossonian Denver

It’s no secret that Five Points and the surrounding neighborhoods continue to become gentrified. Seeing these historical landmarks get an opportunity to renovate and reopen and the variety of houses get facelifts is exciting but, like any decent-hearted Denverite, I hope that it doesn’t come at the expense of the elements that make Five Points what it is. This used to be the heart of the city and it’s been rich in its diversity. Many of the families that have called it home for decades are getting priced out. Damn it, Denver.

The Five Points community suffered from the late 1950s through the late 1990s because of drugs, crime, and urban flight. Many properties were abandoned, the local economy became somewhat irrelevant and the larger market found local business conditions unappealing. Attempts at redevelopment were made but there were many hindrances to reinvestment. The district became a no-man’s land in need of a larger vision and a new generation of leadership.

Five Points has always been a neighborhood with a diverse economic mix of residents, evidenced by the variety of houses there. Mansions were built next to row homes. Many of the rich began moving out of Five Points in the late 19th century to live in the more popular Capitol Hill neighborhood. Five Points was also home to a large Jewish population and is still home to a former synagogue, Temple Emanuel, on the corner of 24th Street and Curtis Street. After World War II, many Japanese-Americans lived in Five Points. Agape Church on the corner of 25th Street and California Street was once a Japanese Methodist church. – Wikipedia

30th and Downing Light Rail Train

Clare articulated my feelings about the hotel when I first showed it to her sometime last year. She was delighted by its very existence, charmed by its story and upset at its current state. While the outside has been carefully preserved, why is this legendary hotel just sitting there like a ghost on the corner of 32nd and Welton?

Rossonian Hotel Denver

The hotel’s shape gives way to a triangular ballroom inside, though I’ve never had the pleasure of exploring it. The Westword wrote a great article back in January about the hotel’s history and future prospects.

Last fall, word leaked that Sage Hospitality — which runs the Oxford Hotel, as well as hotels around the country, and was a partner in the Union Station redevelopment — would partner with Civil Technology to put a luxury hotel in the Rossonian. ‘We are still not far enough for me to confirm anything yet, but I can tell you we’re looking at it,’ Sage spokeswoman Kate Davis said at the time; today she says Sage has no updates.

Meanwhile, the ghosts are clinking their champagne flutes.

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IZZE Sparkling Water Bottles

IZZE Sparkling Water Release Party!

I pee down my leg just a little when writing informal posts at Colfax & Downing gets us randomly invited to fun Denver happenings. First, the new burger menu at Tony’s and now the launch party for IZZE’s new sparkling water, held at Comida at The Source a few weeks back.

IZZE Sparkling Water Launch at Comida at The Source

About six months into our relationship, I converted Drew into a sparkling water addict. I call carbonated water of any kind, “sparklies.” At his birthday dinner in February during Denver Restaurant Week, Drew quickly covered his glass of San Pellegrino with his palm when a server came by to fill it with plain water, saying, “No thank you, this is sparklies,” much to his delayed horror.

Though we enjoy bald eagle tears, neither of us drinks pop on a regular basis and IZZE’s sparkling juice has never been something we buy so we were excited to see what the new water line was all about.

First of all, I could barely make it through the front entrance to the event because I was so enchanted by the violinist they hired for the evening:

A video posted by clareyfrey (@clareyfrey) on

Once inside, we were inside of a Pinterest wet dream. Underneath a gigantic chandelier of IZZE bottles, the staff at Comida was passing around amuse bouche and themed cocktails.

IZZE Sparkling Water Cocktails

Drew sipped on a chilly cherry Collins and I grabbed a Blackberry Pear bottle of a huge ice bucket. We munched on peanut brittle, burrata with tomato arugula and Serrano peppers with chicken liver pate.

Appetizers from Comida at the Source IZZE Sparking Water Launch

Each little dish was paired with one of the new three flavors, Blackberry Pear, Mandarin Lime, and Raspberry Watermelon. My favorite: Blackberry Pear. Drew’s favorite: Blackberry Pear. Take it or leave it: Mandarin Lime.

IZZE Nail Polish at Sparking Water Launch

As you left the tiny gala, you were handed a paper bag to fill with colorful treats. The IZZE-branded nail polish selection would have charmed our dear friend Katy, who paints fantastic nail art for a living.

Colfax & Downing at IZZE Sparkling Water Launch

This post is not sponsored and we will always tell you if it is. In this case, we just love IZZE! Want to try a complimentary four-pack? Leave a comment on this post! On September 10, we’ll select two random winners to receive a coupon for a free four-pack from your neighborhood grocery store. Cheers!

IZZE is on Facebook, Tweeter and the ‘gram and you can find the new H2O adventures under the hashtags #friendsdaynight and #sparklebrightly.

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Purple Door Coffee Five Points Denver

Purple Door Coffee

Purple Door Coffee is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

Purple Door Coffee Front Counter

Denver is in no shortage of great coffee spots. “Third Wave” or just downright incredible coffee is all over the Mile High City and I’m not complaining. What makes Purple Door Coffee unique from everywhere else in town is what they stand for.

The Purple Door mission.

Purple Door Coffee Menu

Madison Chandler and Mark Smesrud, co-founders of Purple Door Coffee, “employ teens and young adults who have been homeless and want to leave homelessness behind.” Through a 52-week curriculum, Madison Mark, and others offer at-risk youth a valuable trade that they can take with them wherever they go.

Purple Door Coffee Inside

Denver has seen a 153 percent increase in homelessness over the years and Purple Door Coffee is doing their part to combat the problem head on.

All you need to do is take a look at Purple Door’s Facebook page to find an example of their impact. Recently, Joe graduated from the 52-week program and will be returning to the store as a manager this month!

Purple Door Coffee Graduation

Photo taken from Purple Door Coffee Facebook Page

Oh, and what about the name, ‘Purple Door Coffee,’ you might be asking yourself?

“Our name comes from the fact that historically the color purple is the color of royalty, and we truly believe that every person, no matter their station in life, has unsurpassable worth and value and deserves to be treated like royalty.” – Madison Chandler, Co-founder of Purple Door Coffee

The next time you find yourself in Five Points in need of some great coffee, do yourself a favor and go to one of few places in Denver where the staff will treat you as though you walked in with a crown on your head.

Purple Door Coffee Counter

Connect with Purple Door Coffee:




There was also this…

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Rosenbergs Bagels

Rosenberg’s Bagels

One of my first memories of my maternal grandfather is a rainy afternoon when he brought home a bag of fresh bagels and I thought he had purchased doughnuts off the factory line before workers could sweeten and glaze them and I was very upset.

Rosenbergs Bagels Sign

Bagels and I have made up since then. On an early Saturday morning, Drew and I ventured over to the Five Points neighborhood to nosh on some carbs before a workout. Drew ordered a simple egg and cheese combination on an onion bagel. I ordered a cinnamon raisin with vegan cream cheese, which I was delighted to find on the menu. Nothing against you, real cream cheese, but I’m a bit of a lactard. We ordered and paid the friendly folks at the counter and cozied up in the cute lower level dining area, decked out in yellow and blue, to wait for our breakfast.

Rosenbergs Bagels Grenade

Rosenberg’s Bagels opened in July of last year to a warm reception. Owner and dreamer Joshua Pollack grew up outside New York City and grew up on the greatness of Katz’s Deli (see: When Harry Met Sally), fostering a deep love of bagels with lox. To replicate the notoriety of East Coast bagels, Joshua replicated the water components of the New York City supply in order to mimic them to perfection. The result is soft, chewy bagels that you can really sink your teeth into.

Rosenbergs Bagels Decor

Drew and I both commented on feeling full but not gross afterward– something that every Colorado bagel place we’ve tried to date has done to our tummies. Could it be the quality ingredients at Rosenberg’s? They have it down to a science. Sorry, Moe’s. It’s not us. It’s you.

Rosenbergs Bagels Deli Counter

The director to whom I report at work (hi, Brian!) is a born and bred Jersey boy. Much as we loved what we ate, Drew and I agreed that he will have to play both judge and jury in deciding whether Rosenberg’s creations are the Real Deal. I plan to take a bag to work soon on a weekday. Friends that live in the neighborhood describe a line out the door at Rosenberg’s on weekend mornings.

Rosenbergs Bagel Deli Counter Pastry

Oh, and why is it named Rosenberg’s? Joshua named it after his mother, Karen Rosenberg Pollack. Could this story be more tender? Go get some.

Holler at Rosenberg’s on le InstagramFacebook and Twitter.

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Five Points Jazz Festival Five Points Plaza

Five Points Jazz Festival: Let’s Take That Bassline for a Walk

The irreplaceable B.B. King passed away last Thursday. Two short days later, I’m sure his legacy was on the minds of the soulful singers and musicians at this year’s Five Points Jazz Festival.

In case you live under a rock, Five Points is one of the most historic neighborhoods in Denver. Jazz greats such as Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillepsie (to name a bare few), played the bars and clubs that comprised Welton Street during its heyday. Many of the incredible performers weren’t allowed to stay in the white hotels in which they performed in the downtown area. They were warmly accommodated in Five Points and often played informal gigs late into the night at the Rossonian Hotel. Nicknamed the “Harlem of the West,” it’s plain to see why the jazz roots run deep in northeast Denver.

Beginning in 2004 and taking place on the third Saturday of May each year, the Five Points Jazz Festival is a serious tribute to this complex musical genre. Admission is free and last year was our first time attending. In 2014, the day was hotter than two goats in a pepper patch. This year, it looked like the sky would open up and pour at any moment.

Five Points Jazz Festival Main Stage

Eight different stages featured the USAFA Falconaires with legendary jazz vocalist Ernie Andrews, Sammy Mayfield, Ritmo Latin Jazz, Joe Smith & the Spicy Pickles, Willie “The Blues Man” Houston and dozens more. There was also a “Youth Stage” where fraggles1 carefully plucked their guitars and crooned into microphones. Adorbs.

Five Points Jazz Festival Rossonian Hotel

And the food, people. Funnel cakes, kettle corn, Saratoga chips, pickles, plates piled with Cajun delights and enough beer and fruity rum to kill a pirate. BYE.

There was also this:

We’re ready to take that bassline for a walk at the #FivePointsJazz #FivePointsJazzFestival #denver #jazz 🎷🎼🎶🎺

A video posted by Colfax & Downing (@colfaxanddowning) on

Don’t miss out on this beautiful local tradition next year. Follow the Jazz Festival on Facebook.

Five Points Jazz Festival Mural

Five Points Jazz Festival 2015

1 Anyone under the age of twelve.

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