DENVER (KDVR) — A downtown restaurant owner broke down into tears during an emotional plea to Denver City Council Monday night.
Don Hines, the owner of Yazoo BBQ Company, is calling on city leaders to take action after he said crime in the area is taking a toll on his business.
“Something needs to be done and nothing has been done for three years,” Hines said.
Crime and vandalism in downtown Denver
Hines opened Yazoo BBQ more than a decade ago with no previous restaurant experience.
“When I first opened, I’d call him [Hines’ father] every day,” Hines said.
Hines said his father passed away about two months after opening up the restaurant, bringing him to tears while addressing the Denver City Council.
“On his death bed I said, ‘Dad, I’m not going to fail,’ and he died two days later,'” Hines said.
Hines said Yelp recently ranked them the number one BBQ spot in Colorado, but with rising costs and all the crime in the area, the past few months have been challenging.
“My customers are being harassed for food and money inside and outside my building every single day,” Hines said. “Public urination and bowel movements of disgusting degree during business hours and after hours.”
He said vehicles have been broken into and vandalized.
“People are still coming, but a lot of people aren’t coming because they’re scared, turned off by all that, and I don’t blame them,” Hines said.
Property taxes on rise, foot traffic drops
On top of crime, Hines said foot traffic is down and property taxes have skyrocketed. He said he pays more than $36,000 a year for under 4,000 square feet.
“It takes over 25,000 quarter-pound sandwiches a year for me to pay my property taxes — 25,000,” Hines said. “I don’t think I sell 25,000 pork sandwiches a year, but thank God I sell other food.”
Hines said he’s asking city leaders to take action.
“Please do your job and help the little guy,” Hines said. “The city is the core. Somehow, they need to come together and need to take care of the problem down here, because it’s not getting any better at this point.”
FOX31 reached out to Denver City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca, who acknowledged Hines’ frustration and the importance of addressing these concerns.
“Every day my office triages calls from people losing their homes, businesses, resources, patience and faith in our city. For four years, my team and I have done everything in our power to transform that pain into power — brokering resources, holding city agencies accountable, proposing new policies/approaches, and fighting for appropriate levels of investment in our city’s greatest needs,” CdeBaca said in a statement.
“Mr. Hines’s story is important and shows how much we need multi-pronged efforts to get him property tax relief, housing for the people living outside of his business, and infrastructure changes to improve the safety, lighting, and pedestrian access to his business. Most constituent concerns involve this level of complexity and require cross-departmental solutions. I am praying for the opportunity going forward to begin solving problems in a more nuanced and holistic fashion than we have throughout this last administration,” she said.