Highlands brewery settles on a name; solves pronunciation debate

Zuni garage

Zuni Street Brewing plans to open this garage-turned-brewery in November. File photo – April 2016 – by Amy DiPierro.

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.

Zuni logo

The Zuni (ZU-nee Pueblo dates back thousands of years, and inspired the Highlands brewery’s name.

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.

Zuni garage
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Jill Bishop
Jill Bishop
4 years ago

Of course it’s really pronounced Zuni (ee) I thought that was common knowledge. But as a street name in Denver it has always been Zuni (long i) So it’s a dilemma for me – to pronounce such things historically or not. I tend to go with the historical pronunciation, meaning the way the locals have always historically pronounced it, with one big exception — I have never been able to call it the Mayan (May- like the month) Theater, even though the neighborhood there did historically. Similarly in Denver, Tejon was always long e, whereas in Colorado Springs it was… Read more »