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 The business of giving back to Aurora ShareThis
Aurora businesses flocking to the cause of helping victims of shooting tragedy

By BRANDON JOHANSSON, Staff Writer 08/31/12 7:16 am :: Last updated: 09/05/12 2:31 pm

AURORA | In the hours after the July 20 theater shootings, area restaurateurs were hard at work, making hundreds of meals for the first responders.

They filled almost any vehicle they could with food and hauled it all over town to police officers, paramedics and firefighters who had been working long hours since the movie theater massacre.

Celebrate Aurora

“We had just a huge response from the group,” said Gayle Jetchick, executive director of the Havana Business Improvement District.

The local business community’s efforts haven’t stopped since.

Seemingly every weekend since the July 20 shootings, businesses around town have hosted events for the victims, raising thousands of dollars along the way.

Shortly after the shootings, local car dealer Ed Bozarth gave $50,000 to the victims.

Bozarth said the hefty donation was one of the biggest his chain of dealerships, which includes Ed Bozarth Chevrolet on Havana, has ever made.

“We’ve been here 30 years, Aurora has been very, very good to us,” he said.

Since the shootings, donors have given about $5 million to the victims. On Tuesday, several victims came forward and said they were frustrated with how that money has been distributed.

Bozarth said he understands some frustration, but said figuring out how so much money will be distributed will take time.

“They’ve had to sort out a lot of things,” he said.

Gibby’s Sports Tavern near South Havana Street and East Florida Avenue last weekend hosted a “Celebrate Aurora” end -of-summer party that raised more than $6,000 for the victims.

Garrett Ladd, the general manager at Gibby’s, said that throughout the day, a few thousand people came through and donated cash, bid on silent auction items or simply partied for a while with their friends.

In addition to all that, the bar donated 20 percent of Saturday’s sales, he said.

When Gibby’s planned the event, several beer and liquor distributors stepped in to help out, Ladd said, something that made the event possible.

“Without that it just doesn’t happen,” he said.

It’s hard to find someone who wasn’t impacted at least indirectly by the July 20 shootings, and Ladd said that’s the case at his bar. The Red Robin restaurant where several victims worked is across the street, and most of his employees knew someone impacted by the shootings.

“We knew that we needed to team up and do our part,” he said.

For Ladd, it was also important to show some pride in his hometown. Ladd, who graduated from Gateway High School in 1989 after attending Aurora Hills Middle School and Crawford Elementary School, said despite what happened last month Aurora is a special place to live.

“It’s rare to find a city that is more culturally diverse but all together at the same time,” he said.

And, having lived here his whole life, Ladd said he knows how friendly the city is.

“It’s not a town where people don’t wave and say hi, help you when you have to change a tire,” he said. “If you want an example of what suburban life should be, it should be Aurora.”

At Chambers Wine and Liquor, owner Lee Earnhart said that sense of community is part of the reason his store is hosting a benefit for the victims Sept. 1 called “Aurora Rises.”

“It’s a statement for our community, we are together, it could have happened any place,” he said.

The event at the liquor store on the southwest corner of East Iliff Avenue and South Chambers Road is scheduled for 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and will feature food and live music.

Earnhart said proceeds from food sales and 100 percent of the store’s net profits that day will go to the victims.

The shooting hit close to home for Earnhart, who has been in Aurora for 33 years. Five of his employees were in the theater that night and while they made it out safe, some had friends who were killed.

“They came to me and wanted to know if I would help them do something,” he said.

And, Earnhart said, he was happy to do it.

“You’ve gotta give back, if you can’t give back to your community, you shouldn’t have it,” he said. This entry was posted in Batman Movie Massacre, Business, Metro Aurora, News, The Community and tagged aurora batman movie massacre shootings, benefits, business improvement district, ed bozarth chevrolet, havana street, local business community, restaurateurs, victims.

posted: September 5, 2012

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 Aurora Business Focus: Gibby’s Sports Saloon ShareThis
Aurora Business Focus: Gibby’s Sports Saloon

Bringing fun, games to bar service

Business: Gibby’s Sports Saloon
Address: 1555 S. Havana St.
Hours: 11 to 2 a.m. daily, 10 a.m. weekend starts during football season
Founded: Acquired in 2010
Contact: Call 303-755-5944 or go to
Employees: 33

Interview with Garrett Ladd, general manager

Q: How did you get involved in this business?
A: I have been in the hospitality industry for more than 25 years. I am an Aurora native and had visited the restaurant several times. I was mildly involved with Gibby’s under the previous ownership. When the general manager position opened up with the present company, I was asked to take it over.

Q: What distinguishes you from other businesses in your category?
A: Physically, our size and our patio. We have more than 5,000-square-feet of eating, drinking and having fun space with a large full-service bar in the center of it all. The patio at Gibby’s is second to none — it is one of the biggest anywhere. It’s open year-round with another full-service bar, TVs, two volleyball courts with the best sand in Denver, and even fire pits for those chilly evenings. What I believe really separates us from the other businesses in our category is our attitude. Extreme hospitality and downtown quality with a neighborhood attitude. Our bartenders are classically trained, they actually know the liquor and how to pour them. In other words, you can get the same (or better) quality drink here, but at a better price. We don’t take ourselves too seriously — while customer satisfaction is paramount, you will often see the staff engaging in games and fun. You never know when your server may take your order on a tricycle. If they can’t do it at one of those canned corporate places, we probably will here.

Q: What do you like best about your line of work?
A: My job is all about having a good time. I love to throw a good party. There is never anything mundane about this industry.

Q: What is your business’ biggest challenge?
A: Keeping the lights on. With a bar this size and our prices so low, it doesn’t leave much to operate with.

Q: Something people might be surprised to learn about you or your business:
A: How good our food is. We have a full mostly scratch-made kitchen, our ingredients are fresh and made in-house. Plus we smoke all of our own meats — if you come by when the smoker is on, you might eat twice.

**Blake Karkoska, left, and Thomas Wang take a break between games on the back patio at Gibby's Sports Tavern in Aurora on Thursday, August 23, 2012. Gibby's is a full scale sports bar with volleyball leagues Sunday thru Thursday during the summer. Photo by Seth A. McConnell, YourHub

posted: September 5, 2012

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 The Food N Beer Buddha Buddha's Bar of the Month: Gibby's in Aurora. ShareThis
Gibby's is your typical sport bar. Wide screens televisions everywhere, pool tables and a excellent line up of beers on tap. Gibby's also offers up great service in a fun atmosphere. But what brings me to Gibby's everytime I'm in Aurora- it's their Green Chile. So good. It makes me so happy. Give me a pint of a fine handcrafted ale and a bowl of their Green Chile and everything at that moment is alright in the world. Sometimes I can only stop to order the Green Chile as take out. But it's so worth it. So, c'mon down and have a bowl and a pint. It'll make your day. Cheers my Food Droogies.

posted: March 16, 2012

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 Westword - By Jonathan Shikes, Mon., May 10 2010 ShareThis
It's hard to find a Denver neighborhood without a neighborhood bar, and it's almost as hard to find a neighborhood without a bar owned by the Little Pub Company.

Through March, the company owned fifteen establishments, including stalwarts like Don's Club Tavern, the Irish Hound, The Spot, Wyman's No. 5 and the British Bulldog.

Now, Little Pub has added four more bars to its stable: the College Inn, which has held down the corner of Eighth Avenue and Birch Street for decades; Dirk's, 7500 South University Boulevard in Centennial; Gibby's, 1555 South Havana in Aurora; and Pifler's, 11353 West Colfax Avenue in Lakewood.

"It's kind of dreamy," says Little Pub founder Mark Berzins. "To have four places you know are well-run and successful. That's pretty tremendous."

Little Pub bought the four bars from the B.U.F.F. Brothers Group on April 26, and now has nineteen bars; B.U.F.F. Brothers still owns FuNuGyz in Parker.

"Our motto is, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it,'" explains Berzins, adding that he plans to keep the names and menus, as well as the kitchen and bar staffs. "We may tinker with some things as we get down the road, but we very much want to keep those places as they are."

Little Pub has opened a number of its own bars, including the Hound, Three Dog Tavern and The Elm, but Berzins says he's taking the advice of his new CEO, K.C. Gallagher, that it's a lot easier to buy a place that's already running.

"Why build when you can buy a local champion?" he asks. "Neighborhood bars are a universal need. They don't take a lot of effort if you have a good crew working in them. That's why we make the commitment not to mess with things too much."

And with that business model in place, Berzins adds, Little Pub could just as easily own thirty bars as twenty.

posted: January 17, 2011

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