DENVER (CBS4) – Two popular restaurants on Broadway are closed after city of Denver inspectors say the building which houses them isn’t safe.

Jesse Morreale owns El Diablo, Sketch Food & Wine and the building which houses both of them at Broadway and 1st.

On Tuesday the city posted warnings stating the entire building is unsafe. The businesses have been closed since then.

“I’m scared, I’m confused, I’m mystified by all of this,” Morreale said. “I don’t know what to do.”

Structural improvements had to be made to the 100-year-old building to make it safe.

Jesse Morreale (credit: CBS)

“We did all of those things,” Morreale said. “Everything that we have asked to do, we have done.”

Morreal said he doesn’t understand what the city wants him to do, but Andrea Burns, a spokeswoman with Denver Community Planning and Development, said it is easy to understand.

“The phase work plan was not completed,” she told CBS4’s Evrod Cassimy.

The city did provide a temporary occupancy permit with the understanding the work would continue. That permit expired Jan. 31, 2011.

City inspectors say additional work has been done to the building but without the necessary permits and inspections. They also said the second floor was being used, which was not allowed.

Morreale first told CBS4 he had not done additional work in the building. Burns disagreed, saying inspectors had been in the building and seen additional work, but that’s not the only problems Morreale has.

“There’s structural work and fire safety work that needs to go on before the building can be delivered safe,” she said. “In addition to that, there needs to be permit and inspections on the additional work that’s been done in the past few months.”

Morreale said he is worried about his more than 100 employees.

“I’m hoping I can get this business open to put these people back to work,” he said.

The city said it has to keep employees and customers safe. “The city of Denver doesn’t ever want to shut down a business,” Burns said. “We want to help get that up to speed but safety is our No. 1 priority.”

The city also told CBS4 Morreale should not have allowed Cassimy and photojournalist Bob Burke into the building for an interview.

While Morreale insisted during that interview he had done no work or remodeling to the building, he did say he had made adjustments to an outdoor patio when contacted later.

Morreale met with the city Thursday, but it’s unclear how long it will take to get the building declared safe and the restaurants reopened.


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