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Popular Arvada Bar Sells Rarest Bourbon To Pay Employees

ARVADA, Colo. (CBS4) - Many Colorado companies are looking into government-issued loans to make it through the economic downturn from COVID-19, but one restaurant in Arvada is doing whatever it can to meet payroll. The Bluegrass Lounge has come up with several different ways to keep making money including unloading its prized collection of rare whiskeys.

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"We know that to keep these doors open for this time, we needed to generate more cash revenue at the time and the only way to do that at the time was to get rid of everything in house," said Josh Schwartz, the Bar and Booking Manager at the Bluegrass Lounge.

For the past week, regulars and new customers have been buying up whiskey. The rarest bottles sold quickly. The store has received calls from all over the country, but is only selling to people who can come into the restaurant, and stay at a safe distance.

"Knowing what the bottles would replace, and help pay for employee salaries and keep these doors open, it was obviously a must. Just a somber moment. A lot of good bourbon and it's taken years to really acquire all those bottles," Schwartz said.

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Even regular customers were surprised by the move.

"They were shocked because they know how much I nerd out over our bourbon, and they were pretty shocked to know things like our rarest bottles, my own barrel picks of whiskey that I've actually gotten to make, they're all for sale," Schwartz said.

Selling booze isn't the only thing the restaurant, which has been voted as one of the top 80 bourbon bars in the country, has done to keep all 15 people employed.

The store has sold over 150 shirts that say "United by Bourbon" with another design coming out next week. Also, a virtual tip jar has raised more than $2,000. Most of it coming from a long-time musician who plays at the Bluegrass Lounge.

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"We needed to find different, creative ways to unite the community and help our staff out and that was one of the ways we thought of," Schwartz said. "You're just so thankful to have people like that in your life."

Plans for a grab-and-go convenience store across from the Olde Town Arvada commuter rail station have been fast tracked. The store will be run by restaurant employees.

"We need Arvadians to have a convenient shopping and needs like toilet paper, Clorox wipes, bleach. Cleaning supplies, that we can supply," Schwartz said.

The plethora of ways to keep making money has been working so far, but Schwartz gives all the credit to the community.

"It's really nice to see how it's all coming together right now," he said.

LINK: The Bluegrass Lounge

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