09 Nov 2018

Spotlight: Improper City

In our new video series, Spotlight, we show off new local businesses in Denver and tell you a little bit about what makes them unique. Recently, we got out of the office and went to Improper City, a food truck park, beer garden and live music venue right down the street from us. Whether you’re looking for a space for your next work meeting, first date or you just want to sample some of Denver’s finest fare, this is the place for you.

Right off the bat, you’ll notice that there are tons of community-centered elements to Improper City’s business plan. The story behind their name is no exception. When travel writer Rose Kingsley arrived in Denver, she said “It was as if the angels were carrying a city to a proper place and accidentally dropped it here.” Not sure if Rose meant this as an insult or not, but we’ll look past that. Playing off the “improper” nature of formerly underdeveloped RiNo’s collection of art studios and funky aesthetic, Improper City aims to stay in touch with its off-beat roots.

In 2016, owners Hank and Justin opened Rayback Collective in Boulder, a similar food truck park and local hangout. After being approached by the owners of Improper City’s current neighbor, Movement, they couldn’t say no to opening a new community space here in Denver.

Because the space itself had previously been used as an HVAC factory, there was some work to do before opening its doors to the public, but with a little hard work and some design help from nearby Oz Architecture, this former industrial space is experiencing a rebirth.

Not surprisingly, one of the biggest draws is the patio. The largest in Denver, there’s no better place to enjoy the sunshine with good drinks and good friends.

Speaking of drinks, they have a constantly changing list of beer, wine, and cocktails that is painstakingly vetted. If caffeine is more your vice of choice, stop by the full-service espresso shop to enjoy whatever coffee concoction you like, made from the highest-quality, sustainably sourced beans from Boulder-based Ampersand Roasters.

All of this is great, but it doesn’t really mean much for business success if the branding isn’t solid. Because we’re an ad agency, we try to look at everything from a marketing perspective. One thing we’ve learned is that one of the most challenging things facing a new business is differentiation. This just happens to be Improper City’s strong suit. The real beauty behind their business plan is that they are willing to become what the neighborhood needs them to be.

Beyond this, Improper City has a great sense of self. They own their unconventional attitude, and it works. Because of their location, this is important. The neighborhood’s aesthetic is echoed in Improper City’s branding strategy, which pays homage to RiNo in a variety of ways, their attitude and logo being a few.

Improper City has a lot going for it – a great selection of products, an up-and-coming location, and a willingness to evolve. One of its biggest strengths, though, is in its understanding of marketing and branding, and how having a smart business plan brings in customers.


I’m Sophie Mann, and I work at encite branding + marketing + creative as Vice President of Strategy. My job entails a continuous study of business, marketing, data and culture, all in the name of driving strategy forward. I’m passionate about helping brands resonate more strongly with their consumers and communicate with their ideal clients. I’m also a proud graduate of the University of Kansas - Rock Chalk!