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Coffee Shop Owner Snared in Gun Politics

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When the campaign to recall State Sen. Evie Hudak was ramping up in October, Denver Post reporter Kurtis Lee interviewed John Golay, owner of Cuporado Coffee, which is located next door to the now-empty offices of the recall organizers.

Golay told Lee the recall activists had been kind to him and boosted his business.

"But I'm not signing the petition," Golay told Lee. "The issue of guns is a polarizing issue that blows partisanship up even more, and I hear where they're coming from. But massacres like Aurora hit a little too close to home. Something had to change."

Lee's article amassed over 350 comments, but this one by cowboyxjon caught my eye: "Now that we know that the owner of Cuporado Coffee supports gun control, we will no longer patronize his business. I encourage the Recall Hudak crew to do the same."

Last week, I drove out to Cuporado Coffee, located in a strip mall on Simms and 64th Ave. in the Denver suburb of Arvada, to find out if the recall activists had boycotted Golay's business after Lee's article appeared.

Golay told me some anti-Hudak folks came by and told him they'd stop patronizing his business because of what he'd said in the newspaper. And some anti-Hudak regulars from the recall office next door stopped buying coffee, he said.

At the same time, his business didn't see any upsurge in business from pro-Hudak, gun-safety activists, or progressives who might have appreciated his comments, he told me.

Golay explained to the anti-Hudak people that he'd mostly wanted to tell The Denver Post about how he wished schools had more money to help kids who need it, like his own three autistic children. He hadn't intended to take sides, and he regrets talking to Lee, he told them.

His recall neighbors accepted this, and after an initial tense period of time, business pretty much returned to normal, he said. Per an agreement with the landlord, the people in the Hudak-Recall office used the bathroom in his coffee shop. And they bought coffee.

They also continued to push Golay to sign their recall petition, but he never did.

I told Golay I admired him for that and for his courage in talking to Kurtis Lee in the first place.

He seemed to appreciate my support, but he told me he'd rather The Denver Post had quoted him as saying this:

"Why can't we take the money on both sides--recalling or not recalling Hudak--and just put it into the local issues that need money--schools and roads. We could make our community better. I see struggling families. I see struggling businesspeople like me who want to make money to feed their families. Just a drop in the bucket would go a long way."

Golay hasn't seen anyone from the Recall-Hudak office since it closed.

"They weren't locals," he says. "A lot of them were from the mountains. Or Aurora. Most of them didn't live here. They were hired guns."

Golay told me he's not sure his business will survive, and he may be forced to go back to bartending and waiting tables.

He's not blaming the recall organizers or The Denver Post, but he says having them next door and being quoted in newspaper didn't make running his business any easier.

John Golay behind the Counter at Cuporado Coffee