While naming their new brewery on Zuni Street in the Highlands, two childhood friends stumbled across the answer to a long-standing Denver debate: Is it pronounced ZU-nee or ZU-ni?
Willy Truettner and T.J. Slattery decided to check the source. The Zuni Pueblo, a Native American tribe in New Mexico, traces its history back thousands of years.
“It is actually pronounced ZU-nee,” said Truettner, who will leave his position as a brewer at New Belgium to start the newly named Zuni Street Brewing Co. “And we got tribal council permission to use the name.”
Truettner and his middle school lab partner-turned-co-founder, Slattery, reckon they’ve renamed their brewery five times. The company leased a space next door to Teatulia Tea Bar in March.
But each time they thought they had picked a winner, they realized another brewery or local bar had snagged a trademark or operated under a similar-sounding name.
Luckily, there aren’t many Zunis. A quick Google search shows that New York, Arizona, New Mexico and Minnesota each have a Zuni Street, but none stretch through a city like the one running from Sheridan north to Broomfield.
“We wanted a name that really incorporated the part of town that we’re in,” Slattery said.
The pair said they chose the 3,500-square-foot spot at the corner of Zuni and 29th because LoHi fits their target demographic: outdoor enthusiasts in their early 20s to mid-30s. Truettner and Slattery want their brewery to evoke the wilderness beyond Denver’s city limits, too.
William Wood Architecture’s design for Zuni Street Brewing Co. begins with a bar that looks like a mountain cabin, a ceiling with cut-out silhouettes of trees against a blue backdrop and patios outside two pairs of garage bays on either side of the bar.
“The brewery and the bar – that’s your home,” said Truettner. “But then you turn out to a great expanse of wilderness.”
Truettner and Slattery even toyed with the idea of a seating area meant to look like a boulder to complement their Sitting Rock Ale, one of 10 brews they hope to serve.
The brewery plans to begin construction in mid-August and to open in November. It raised $400,000 from seven investors to launch, according to an SEC filing in March.