Denver longest-running theatrical production is offering $1,000 to anyone who can find it a new home before it loses the old one in January.
The 26-year-old Impulse Theater and Comedy Club, based below Wynkoop Brewing Co. in Lower Downtown, is parting ways with the brewpub to make way for renovations to the space, leaving Impulse with no permanent residence.
As a marketing hook, it's been offering $1,000 from the stage to anyone who can secure a permanent home for the company. (You can submit your idea directly via their website).
"We've been looking for a space of our own to buy for about 10 years," said Impulse director and co-founder John Bauers. "We got close a few times but it never worked out. We even had the loans approved. It's just so tough to break into the commercial real estate market."
The Impulse, which has performed thousands of improvised comedy shows from the basement of the Wynkoop since 1993, brings 400-500 people to the brewpub each weekend, or more than 20,000 additional customers annually.
Impulse's agreement with the Wynkoop includes a $1,000 month-to-month lease — an extremely low number given the value of the surrounding real estate — and the stipulation that all sales from the Wynkoop-run bar go to the Wynkoop.
Bauers estimated the gross receipts generated by the Impulse bar at $120,000 per year.
"It will definitely have an initial negative impact on brewpub sales," said Lee Driscoll, CEO of Breckenridge-Wynkoop. "The deal was not driven by the rent but by mutual benefit. It's a been great long-term relationship over the better part of 20-some years."
Driscoll said the Impulse was not being forced to leave, but rather an agreed-upon deadline was set to expire. The Wynkoop plans to begin renovations to the entire building, including the Impulse space in the basement, next spring. The plan is to create space for the brewery's expanding barrel-aged beer program and a tasting room.
"What I'm hoping to find in the interim is a symbiotic relationship like the one we have with the Wynkoop," Bauers said, noting that his touring company still performs between 50 and 125 road shows each year. "I'm just hoping we find a restaurant where our regular weekend schedule won't get interrupted."
Bauers said he has tried four times over the past decade to purchase a new home for the Impulse, but that the complex commercial real estate market and shaky economic climate has stymied him each time, decimating his personal finances in the process.
"It's still our long term plan," he said. "But every time in the past, we had the plans drawn up and all the appraisals paid for, and I still lost between $40,000 and $100,000 each time we went into that deal."
The Impulse Theater first opened as Comedy Sportz in a restaurant called Maxwell's in Glendale (behind the Target, now Sam Taylor's BBQ) for a show that sat 40 people per night, sans-tables. It quickly outgrew that space and moved to Govnr's Park Tavern in Capitol Hill in 1988, performing in what is now the bar's billiards room.
The Impulse moved to the Wynkoop in 1993, which at the time was one of the lone outposts of nightlife in the otherwise industrial area of Lower Downtown.
"It was still kind of a weird, dangerous place in some ways then," Bauers said of LoDo. "After 11 p.m. there was just nobody on the streets. In fact we used to tell people their directions to get into the show was get downtown any way you feel comfortable, find 18th Street and drive until you find the building with lights on."
John Wenzel: 303-954-1642, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/johnwenzel