While sitting on the front patio at the Bardo Coffee House, drinking his coffee and enjoying a morning cigarette, it’s not unusual for several passerby to stop and say hi to Ron Tarver.
After moving to the Baker neighborhood in the 1970s, Tarver, 72, almost immediately began working at bettering the community. He’s been involved with the Broadway Merchants Association, neighborhood groups and the Metro Denver Local Development Corporation, a maintenance district which also works with the area.
Over the years, Tarver has helped write grants to plant trees and has done research in an effort to make the area a historic district. He also put together music fairs in the neighborhood. Through that work, he got to know the business owners and vendors in the area.
Adding the trees from Second Avenue to Bayaud Avenue on Broadway helped to make the area more walkable, which then brought more people out to the local businesses on the street.
“I wanted the neighborhood to get better,” he said. “When you live in an area like Baker, having a viable commercial district is an amenity.”
Tarver, who owns several commercial properties on South Broadway, is also a business owner himself. After a tenant left the space at 244 S. Broadway, Tarver decided to open his own distillery there. After six years of work, the Denver Distillery in January 2018.
Since opening, Tarver and his team have blended award winning spirits and liquors. Tarver said that he believes that making whiskey is akin to writing poetry.
“Every word, every comma, every period has a meaning,” he said. “I want people to enjoy the flavor and complexity it takes to make.”
Tarver puts that same care into his other ventures like the properties he owns and his own artworks carving small sculptures.
Back when Tarver first moved to Baker, he worked at Denver Health, which was then called Denver General Hospital. He holds a master’s degree in hospital administration. At the time, he bought two properties and then flipped them. He began to continue doing that on the side, renting the properties out to local residents.
Through house flipping, Tarver learned more about repair and renovation. For his own house he added a wrought iron fence and fixed the flagstone sidewalk in front of the house. He was hoping to add the fence to make his house look similar to what would have been there in the 1890s.
The building he owns, which houses Denver Distillery and the neighboring Bardo Coffee, has six cast iron pillars on the front. Tarver stripped the paint and then polished the cast iron before hiring someone to gild the pillars.
Through owning business properties, Tarver has seen many different trends over the years. When his 33-year-old daughter Jennifer was young, Tarver said he started to see more and more women-owned businesses.
Whenever he needed to talk to these tenants about something, he would bring his daughter along. “I wanted her to meet women in business,” he said.
His daughter later started her own midwifing business. Her husband is the general manager of the Denver Distillery. Local business, helps make a community thrive, Tarver said.
“It’s important to have entrepreneurs,” he said.
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