Local Bar with Mission and a Family Atmosphere

An Interview with Local 46 Owner, Niya Diehl

Local 46 is a bar and restaurant in the Berkeley neighborhood of Denver at 46th and Tennyson.  They are a bar and recently opened up an outdoor grill on their patio!  It is a family-friendly establishment and there is free bocce ball and ping pong available in their very cool, rustic outdoor patio area. They even frequently donate a percentage of their profits to education and help with fundraisers to support local schools.  

I recently sat down with owner, Niya Diehl, and learned more about why she opened up this innovative bar and grill.  

What made you open up Local 46?  It was a combination of opportunity, passion and experience.  It came naturally to me and the time was right.  Mine and Grant's (her fiancee) combined experience and passion for fundraising came together really well. 

What is distinct about your bar and restaurant?  I will keep coming back to that community aspect, where we really tried to do something different, and be something for everybody.  They always tell you in business planning that you have to find your niche, but we were wanting to be a little something for everybody, and so there's the kid piece, the family-friendly atmosphere, as well as the late night scene.  

So we're open until 2:00 am every night. We have live music almost every night of the week, but then we also do these family-friendly events.  Then I would also say the extensive fundraising for all the local schools, and just doing a lot of involved events with that community.  

And there's the patio. It's very unique.  It's has the same-size footprint as the inside of the building, so it's a significant size, and it's kind of rustic and recycled looking, refurbished.  Everything is recycled or repurposed for the most part, and a lot of little spaces, lots of trees and green growth. It's just kind of funky and different. It feels like coming to your friend's backyard, and it's really spacious, so people feel really comfortable here, like they're at their house.  

How does Local 46 approach sustainability? It's a part of our handbook. We talk about how important our efforts are to be as low impact as possible in this industry is really hard, because it's a consuming business.  But we recycle, which actually most of our waste is recyclable.  90% of what we go through is glass bottles and cans, paper and boxes, so we recycle a lot. I really want to start composting, but with the grill being so new I haven't put together the composting piece yet.  Ideally I'd love to do that, and then have a garden in the whole back area by the patio, and grow as much as we can.  

It's also about supporting as many local vendors and purveyors as possible.  We have found a way to source almost everything locally.  After slowly transitioning, we now have 100% local craft drafts, which is four handles outside and seven handles inside.  All the food is local. We found a couple of companies, such as LoCo Foods. They do a really great job and they distribute, but need a little more warning. It's kind of limited and depends on the seasons, but there is some stuff that we really count on from them.  Everything they sell and distribute comes from a 250 mile radius of Fort Collins, which is super cool.  We base our menu off of what we can get from them, so we try and make it seasonal. Of course there are times when we just have to run to the store and buy tomatoes, because they didn't have them that week, but they've been a great resource.  

There's also a farm called Everett Farms, which is actually run by an old high school friend. It's up in Lakewood, and they've done all of our greens and a bunch of different veggies for the season. They've been a great resource. My grill guys go up there and actually pick all the food for our salads, and we do different seasonal farm salads based off what the farm has available.  

That's how we really try to be sustainable, is to keep our money reinvested in the community and be local.  We are Local 46!  

How have your customers responded to the sustainability piece?  Not until we opened the grill, did I really start to see peoples' appreciation for that.  We knew it was important.  I don't know how many people look, but when I'm out at a bar I look, and I notice if they're recycling their bottles, or if it's all going in one thing.  

You know, it's little things that people look for, and we're kind of blatant with our recycle bins, and the local thing is kind of in your face inside with the Colorado flag, and all our local spirits lined up and 100% local drafts. So, they see it, but I don't think in their mind it's translating to sustainability necessarily, and I don't know if it's just the environment, like local is in, which is great, but I think people see it more as Colorado pride.  

But when we started to do the food, and when we really promote the Everett Farms piece, and that it's farm-to-table, and we talk about our connection to Continental Sausage, who does all of our sausages.  They get all of their meat from local producers, and then we just tap into these other proud, Colorado businesses.  Then people start to recognize it, because they see that branding.  We have to talk about it, so that people know we care, and that it's something we're wanting to share.  Then they see. Oh, they're proud that they actually know the farmer and they went and picked all of this.  That's when our customers make the connection.  

What else would you like people to know about Local 46? 

I think that there's probably a lot of people, and even a lot of regulars that don't necessarily know quite how supportive we are of the local schools, and maybe sometimes that doesn't get translated, and sometimes people can get frustrated. They'll say, "What are you trying to do?" "Why are there kids here?" It's really a bigger vision. We trying to show that we can make everybody happy, and we want this to be a space that can be enjoyed by families, and trying to balance it is going to be tricky, but we're doing our best, and it's fun!  

For the most part people have been really receptive, and we have such a great group of people that come in here and we've made a whole family with them. It's really great. I feel like people know and that it really people speaks for itself when people show up here. I think you kind of get the feeling of what we're really trying to get across.  

It's 21 and up after ten o'clock, and we pretty much and say kids before dark.  Music doesn't start until 9:30 and for sure they need to be gone by then.  Our patio has to close at 10:00 during the week and by 11:00 on Friday and Saturday.