Popular Brewer's Republic closes in downtown Colorado Springs after fire code flap

By Rich Laden and Stephanie Earls Updated: December 28, 2017 at 1:47 pm • Published: December 22, 2017 0
photo - A U-Haul containing some of the items that were moved out of Brewers Republic is shown on Wednesday evening December 20, 2017 in Colorado Springs. (Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette).
A U-Haul containing some of the items that were moved out of Brewers Republic is shown on Wednesday evening December 20, 2017 in Colorado Springs. (Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette).

A popular downtown watering hole that's been a go-to spot for the city's serious craft beer crowd since 2010 is no more.

Brewer's Republic, which operated at 112 N. Nevada Ave. adjacent to the historic Kiowa Building at Nevada and Kiowa Street, closed this week, apparently after a dispute between the business and its landlord over fire code violations.

The bar and taphouse served its last beer Tuesday night; by Wednesday evening, owner Jeff Haigh and his son were packing up a U-Haul parked outside the business and collecting condolences from disappointed regulars who'd stopped by hoping the rumor wasn't true.

"I guess it does feel kind of like a death," said Erick Groskopf, adding the taproom played an important role in his coming of age as a craft beer fan. "I feel like a very big staple of downtown Colorado Springs is gone."

The closure included Haigh's other operation - The Underground Pub and Subterranean Nightclub, the city's largest gay dance club, which operated in the Kiowa Building's lower level.

Haigh took over the businesses in 2016 when former owners Jerry Morris and Tom Halfast left to start Cerberus Brewing Co., a brewery and restaurant on the Springs' west side.

On Wednesday, Haigh's son indicated the decision to close came after a recent fire inspection revealed major - and cost prohibitive - problems that needed to be corrected in a kitchen that served Brewer's and The Underground.

Jeff Haigh didn't return follow-up phone calls Thursday and Friday.

Building owner Tony Afshar, who bought the property in 1997 and formerly operated The Underground, said this week that the fire code issues involving Haigh and Brewer's Republic weren't new. Haigh was told about them as far back as last year, but failed to get repairs made, Afshar said.

A fire inspector in 2016 identified problems with an overhead sprinkler system and a kitchen safety system, Afshar said. The issues weren't corrected, but the inspector apparently left the Fire Department and nobody followed up to make sure fixes were made, he said.

In October of this year, Afshar said, similar fire code violations were identified. He said he was contacted by a fire inspector about the latest problems, and this time had his attorney send Haigh a letter informing him he had 30 days to correct them. Nothing happened, Afshar said.

Haigh then was served with an eviction notice sometime in the last 10 days to two weeks, Afshar said. A court hearing related to the eviction took place Thursday, but Haigh didn't show up, he said.

Afshar said Haigh never told him of the closing of Brewer's Republic and The Underground. Instead, Afshar said, he heard about it "through the grapevine" Wednesday afternoon.

Haigh also was behind in his rent at the time of the closing, Afshar said.

"He was not a good operator," Afshar said. "The people before him did very well. I never had a problem with the previous owners."

Afshar said he's now working to get the building's ground-floor spaces leased; the building's upper floors are leased as office space.

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