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Meet Niya Gingerich of Local 46 Bar in Berkeley (North Denver)

Today we’d like to introduce you to Niya Gingerich.

Niya, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
We opened Local 46 in April of 2012. It uses to be called the Music Bar and it was an old dive bar/karaoke bar for 30 years. Grant (hubby) and I opened the bar with the vision of a true community gathering place for all. We did not want to take away the charm and character of the retro dive feel but obviously needed to do some major updating. We wanted to make sure that the old-time Northsiders still felt welcome along with the new young families and transplant incomers. We tried to tie in as much of the old school charm, the maroon upholstery behind the bar is original, the bar top and back bar is all original. We took out a dropped ceiling that used to run all the way across to the South wall, ripped up three layers of moldy carpet, updated the lights, bathrooms, kitchen, stage and lots more, doing most of the work ourselves. We pretty much lived there for a while! Where the biergarten is now, use to just be a dirt/trash lot.

On our one year anniversary, we debuted the “biergarten” but it looked a lot different then, we had all the folding tables and chairs we could find out there for seating and there was hardly any landscaping and no hardscapes. We slowly added on piece by piece and my brother Ryan did most of the building out there including the fire pits and eventually the outside bar structure and the grill structure. Same went for the inside, we added on systems and updated as we could afford it, we never had any outside investors. Grant is the master designer and vision guy and I was always the day to day operator and systems gal. We quickly realized it was best for us to have clear roles in the company and set boundaries early on to protect our personal relationship. I worked behind the bar a lot in the first couple of years. We started doing food around our 2nd year and have tried on several hats over the years, at one point we tried to run a juice bar during the day called Juice Mon and the next year we tried to do a coffee shop during the day called Cafe 46…. both were short-lived and we decided to focus on what we do best… booze and music and basically throw an awesome party every day!

The name Local 46- Grant came up with the name and it took some time for me to warm up to it but now I can’t imagine what else we could be called! When we opened there was nothing North of 44th and we wanted people to identify with the location itself (46/46th Ave) and we wanted to pay homage to the history of the building and the bar it was for so many years. The Music Bar was an old Union worker hang out that offered early morning Happy Hour (7am-9am) to the night shift workers. We also knew from early on that our vision was to support all things Local. Local beer, local food, local spirits, local workers, local business, etc. Thus… Local 46 was born

Niya moved to Colorado in 3rd grade and grew up in the restaurant industry. Her grandmother owned a bar and was a bartender for most of her life (Grandma Sylvia) and her mom was a server/ bartender for years as well. Niya has worked as a host, barback, server, bartender, floor manager and then served as General Manager at Mead St Station for several years before opening Local 46. Grant grew up in Cali and moved to Colorado for college. Grant was a mortgage lender and real estate guy (still is) before getting into the restaurant business in 2003. It was his first venture into the industry and he opened a swanky restaurant/bar called Swimclub 32 where El Camino now lives. It lasted about five years but almost wiped him out financially; he sold his mortgage company and dove into it to try and salvage what he could of the restaurant idea. El Camino was born out of desperation and has evolved into the uber-successful tavern it is today!

Niya and Grant met at El Camino after one of Niyas shifts across the street at Mead St Station and the rest is history! They opened Local in 2012 and got married in 2015. They love to travel and bike, love wine and good food and are strong believers in the local community.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Lots of little and big struggles along the way but mostly we have been blessed with a wonderful community and staff.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Local 46 Bar – what should we know?
Community runs deep here at Local 46, whether you are a long-time local or a short-timer. We aim to make everyone feel right at home. Embracing the local values, personality, and life. We do this because we believe that investing – digging deep and planting – is the best way to see life thrive. We believe that cultivation of that life is key to sustainability, to hope, to bigger things. It means investing not to the end of just one’s growth, but the growth of many. Take care of yourself and each other. Be kind, be thoughtful. Oh and serve great drinks at a reasonable price, have kick ass live music and the best biergarten in Denver!

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My mom taught me to plant deep roots but to still spread your wings and fly… take changes, say yes, smile, be kind and thoughtful.

Although I am majority partner and run the day to day, my husband (and business partner) helps me with the wings thing 😉 He is the dreamer. I couldn’t do any of it without him.

Mary and Andy Robinson took a chance on me and gave me a lot of responsibility- and trust at a very young age, they allowed me to run their very successful and proven restaurant concept. I was GM at just 23. I learned so much from them, by trial and error and self-direction and self-education. My five years at Mead St Station gave me a real understanding of all the behind the scenes workings of a restaurant. The company sold in 2012 and I moved in another direction, took a little time off and, did some soul searching and then opened Local shortly after!

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Image Credit:
Niya

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