By Laurie Dunklee
Edgewater is a real small town, where neighbors know each other and each other’s kids,” says Grant Babb, owner of Joyride Brewing and an Edgewater resident since 2009. “My kids are safe riding their bikes down the street.”
Babb is president of the new Edgewater Business Association and he ran for mayor of Edgewater in the fall of 2017. He opened Joyride in 2014 to promote community, he says.
“We’re built around community. The place has long tables instead of two-tops because we want people to talk and get to know one another.”
The Midwest transplant is digging his roots in deep in Edgewater. Babb’s two daughters, ages 9 and 16, attend Lumberg Elementary at 24th Ave. and Otis St., where his wife teaches preschool.
“I’m grateful for the rare opportunity to live, play and own a business all within a few blocks, so I try to give back to the community,” Babb says.
Babb graduated from Earlham College in Indiana and started his career as a chemical engineer. He developed environmentally friendly detergents before turning his interest to brewing beer. In 2005, he moved to Denver as a consultant for a large beer company.
“I was advising them on the chemicals used in their brewing process and I fell in love with brewing. After I moved here, I got kicked to the curb during the great recession. Then I decided I could start my own place.”
The son of an Air Force officer, Babb spent his growing-up years living around the world. He was born in Las Vegas and his family lived in several U.S. cities and overseas.
“We were in Germany when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. I remember the clash of cultures and the poverty of the people coming across the border. It takes the shackles off your eyes when you see people standing in line for bread,” Babb said. “I came to appreciate small towns where people take care of each other. It made me want to put down roots and give back.”
Joyride, at 25th Ave. and Sheridan, celebrates its fourth anniversary this month. Babb said it’s a success because “people need a place to hang out. It’s not a bar. The place is full of light and it’s not dive-y. Kids and dogs are welcome.”
The brewery occupies a 1910 building.
“This building was the first meat market west of Sloan’s,” Babb said.
Joyride’s logo features Roger the elephant, brought here in the early 1900s by the owners of Manhattan Beach – the original Sloan’s Lake amusement park – from Central Park in New York. Roger had a wicker basket on his back that the kids could ride. One day a hot air balloon went up and scared him, so he reared up and the kids fell out. One boy was crushed under Roger’s foot when he came down.
“The boy’s family, the Eatons, didn’t prosecute Roger because they knew it was an accident. So Roger lived a long life,” says Babb.
This month, Joyride will be closed for several days while a new 2,300-square-foot rooftop deck is constructed.
“The bedrock is 20 feet deep, so they’ll dig into that to support the deck,” said Babb.
Joyride has become a central meeting place, where conversations run the gamut and can get political.
“The place became like a built-in soapbox, where people discussed their issues with the city,” said Babb. “I heard a lot about problems with starting new businesses in Edgewater. I also heard from people who didn’t appreciate the buildings being scraped and replaced with construction that didn’t fit the town’s character. Families were moving away because the city wouldn’t allow them to expand their homes, and people were taking their kids out of the local schools.
“I saw the city rushing to conclusions and I thought those decisions needed more review and input. That’s why I ran for mayor in 2017. It was a wake-up call to the city that people are paying attention, that we want to grow responsibly.”
After losing the election, Babb started the Edgewater Business Association (EBA) in May of this year. He says the association has 20 member-businesses so far. According to the EBA website, “As Edgewater continues to grow, the business community must educate and connect residents, government and nonprofits about upcoming issues. By working together, all those who live and work in Edgewater will benefit.”
“We’ll work with city council to attract healthy, diverse businesses – not too many of the same kind of businesses because that drives some of them out,” Babb said. “We’ll work with the city on communications with citizens and businesses, to allow for more buy-in on important decisions. Sales tax pays for everything in Edgewater, so businesses should be consulted.”
One of the first changes needed, he said, is to start live-streaming city council meetings.
“Citizens miss the important discussions if they can’t attend city council meetings. It’s time to live-stream and post the meetings, like the cities around us do.”
Babb said progress is being made already.
“We have a beautiful blend of old and new residents on city council now, and they work well together. So, we’re moving forward.
“Edgewater is having growing pains. It’s less than one square mile in size, sandwiched in between Denver, Wheat Ridge and Lakewood. It’s fighting to keep its identity while welcoming the new.”