One of the country’s first sober bars prepares to close and regroup

The importance of super spaces

One of Awake’s owners, Christy Wynne, checked Rochester’s products out at the establishment and then sat down to talk to Rocky Mountain PBS about what this new direction for the means.

“We aren’t closing because we somehow failed or because we have to stop. It says nothing about that the alcohol-free movement can’t survive. It’s thriving in other cities and it’s happening. The movement is big, but we just need a pause right now to figure out how to move forward and make this Awake, Awake Denver, bigger and better and stronger,” Wynne explained. “The need is there it’s more about the constraints of our space and the responsibility of my husband and I when we’re not really seasoned as bar and restaurant people.”

She and her husband Billy Wynne opened the bar in November of 2020 after they both decided to re-examine the use of alcohol in their lives. Wynne feels that people don’t have to say they have a problem with alcohol to question their relationship with it.

“Let’s normalize not using a highly addictive substance on a daily basis. Let’s provide safe spaces for people. I think it’s extremely important right now because of where we all are with mental health,” Wynne said.

According to recent studiesalcohol related deaths have increased by 25% since the beginning of the pandemic. The World Health Organization also classifies alcohol as a class one carcinogenwhich means it carries a risk of cancer. Wynne sees this as another reason to have spaces like Awake available not just for sober people but the sober curious as well. “With anxiety levels at an all-time high post COVID it just sometimes feels like the sky is falling for a lot of people, and so, I think now more than ever we really need a movement toward ‘let’s all stay clear headed and let’s all try and heal.”’”

Preparing for a new chapter

Wynne feels that the fact that Awake is temporarily closing doesn’t mean they’ve failed; she said it is the opposite, and that they are redefining what success actually is.

“So, we have to go against those old opened and conditioning, so now we look at that first day we had the doors and we had people in tears and that, to me, is all the success in the world,” Wynne said.

A card from a regular at Awake

Wynne said the amount of support from the community gives her hope that Awake will be able to find investors to help with a move to another location and expand, so they can do even more for the alcohol-free movement.

The bar’s last day in its current space is August 21.

“It’s so sad. You can forget how many people are affected by us closing,” Wynne said. “I was just reading a card someone left in the back which is what made me really emotional today. It was a beautiful card written to everyone at Awake just thanking us for being here and wishing us the best and saying that they’ll follow us wherever we end up.”


Dana Knowles is a multimedia journalist at Rocky Mountain PBS and can be reached at danaknowles@rmpbs.org.

Brian Willie is the content production manager with Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach him at brianwillie@rmpbs.org.

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