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Denver-area brewery accuses co-founder of diverting $1 million to himself, other businesses

Joyride Brewing has filed suit against the co-founder and Broadway club Herman’s Hideaway

In-table fire pits on the covered rooftop at Joyride Brewing Company by Sloan's Lake in Denver. (Provided by Joyride Brewing)
In-table fire pits on the covered rooftop at Joyride Brewing Company by Sloan’s Lake in Denver. (Provided by Joyride Brewing)
1DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 17: A head shot of Jonathan Shikes, Entertainment Editor/The Know on October 17, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

Joyride Brewing sued one of its co-owners Friday, saying he racked up $420,000 in “unneeded and unapproved” debt and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in brewery money to pay bills and expenses for two other businesses, including a well-known club.

The lawsuit comes two weeks after Joyride, 5217 W. 25th Ave. in Edgewater, announced that it had filed for bankruptcy protection. In that announcement, Joyride president and co-founder Dave Bergen said the move was the result of “malfeasance” by a former general manager.

On Monday, Joyride identified that general manager as Grant Babb, who opened Joyride with Bergen in 2014. Babb, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Edgewater in 2017, is also part owner of famed South Broadway music venue Herman’s Hideaway, the suit said, and of Live Slow Brewing. Live Slow has been planning to open for two years now in Gold’s Marketplace in Wheat Ridge.

“Beginning in 2022 through the date of his termination, Babb wrote hundreds of thousands of dollars in unapproved and unauthorized checks to himself, Live Slow, and Hermans from Joyride accounts,” reads the lawsuit. It was filed by Joyride’s parent company, GDB Holdings, on Dec. 1 in Jefferson County District Court against Babb and Hermans Legacy, LLC.

Babb also “made hundreds of thousands of dollars in unapproved and unauthorized Venmo, PayPal, credit/debit card, and other cash transactions from Joyride accounts for his and/or Live Slow’s and Hermans benefit,” the document continues. “In all, Defendant caused Joyride to enter into hundreds of thousands of dollars of unneeded and unapproved debts while systematically draining Joyride’s accounts of at least $1,000,000 since 2022.”

The lawsuit claims that Herman’s was aware that the money it was receiving was coming from Joyride and that the company has since “refused to return the funds.”

Babb and Bergen each own 20% of Joyride, while the remaining 60% is owned by seven other investors, according to bankruptcy documents.

Neither Babb nor Bergen immediately returned messages seeking comment on Monday.

Bergen, who serves as president of the Colorado Brewers Guild, previously stated that Joyride would remain open while it reorganized. The business is known for its rooftop patio overlooking Sloan’s Lake and for its Ice Cutter Kölsch, which has won several beer awards.

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