We had the good fortune of connecting with Gertie Harris and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gertie, how does your business help the community?
Our mission with Fireside at Five has always been to make people more intentional. We strive to make people more intentional with their relationships, their communication, their work, and their roles in the community at large. We believe that through intentional placemaking, community-driven programming, and impactful activation, we can build a more sustainable and inclusive city for all of us. One of the ways we do this is by partnering with a lot of grassroots organizers, creatives, small businesses, and community leaders for our projects and Series. Most of the events we put on are centered around supporting local brands, working collaboratively with people in the community, educating about important issues or historical legacies, and driving impact back to the neighborhoods that we’re working within.
For example, we recently teamed up with Chef Tajahi Cooke from Ms. Betty’s Cooking to help launch The Supper Club — a Series that reimagines hospitality and centers around chef collaboration, sustainable purchasing practices, and storytelling through experiential, multi-course meals. We also just launched Gin & Jazz with Purnell Steen, a legendary Five Points Jazz musician. This community-driven Jazz Series champions and celebrates artists who embody and carry forth the Five Points jazz legacy in modern-day Mile High and will be running through the summer in Five Points. At the end of the day, we’re still throwing fun events for the community, we’re just taking them one step further by making sure they’re also impactful and intentional. It takes a little more time and requires an additional layer of thoughtfulness and collaboration. Still, it’s so much more fulfilling and gives the community ownership over these projects and Series. That’s what sets Fireside apart from so many of the other people in this industry. There’s event planning, and then there’s community placemaking and programming. We’re trying to do the latter.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My career has always centered around community building, placemaking, marketing, and events. I started as the Marketing & Events Intern for Larimer Square, and that was the first time I realized I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I got to program fun events for Larimer Square, worked with the team at Denver Union Station, oversaw social media accounts, grew my network, and worked under some of the best leadership ever (Radhika Mahanty, Sam Gentry, Jacey McDaniel). Those folx are still some of my best friends and mentors.
From there, I moved over to City Street Investors for a summer internship after graduating from DU to do programming and activation for Lowry Beer Garden and Hangar 2. That was the first time I’d ever overseen a budget, called the shots myself, and had complete creative control over our events. That internship gave me the confidence I needed before starting my first job out of college working for Sage Hospitality.
At that point, I’d already worked for three of the Denver Union Station partners, so I had a pretty good understanding of what to expect as I began working for my fourth, Walter Isenberg. One of the biggest takeaways from my two years at Sage was a quote that I heard Walter say once, “When looking at placemaking, we want to create places that people go to, not through.” Once I had heard that I made it my mission to make The Oxford Hotel, The Crawford Hotel, The Maven Hotel, and The Oxford Club, Spa & Salon some of the best destinations in town. I learned everything from my boss at the time, Krista Pass, and together we got to create an entire marketing strategy for these beautiful, independent properties. That was one of the highlights of my career, for sure.
When I look back at all of the previous positions I’ve held and all of the people I’ve had the privilege of learning from, I can’t help but feel immense gratitude and appreciation for the journey. It was never a straight line, but I thank my lucky stars for all of the leaders and visionaries who saw something in me and gave me a seat at their table. All I can hope is that one day I’ll be able to extend seats to a new generation of leaders in this great city that we all get to call home.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oooh, I got to answer this question in my last interview so I’m going to throw the same answer in here. Here’s a pre-covid itinerary for an adventurous foodie who loves to go out and walk around the city.
Hop Alley — #1 Favorite in Denver, only plays rap music, VERY spicy Chinese food. Dio Mio — Handmade pasta, intimate, cozy. Linger — Dishes from all over the world, great for groups, rooftop views. SuperMegaBien — Dim-Sum but with Tapas, great punches to split with friends. City O’ City — Vegetarian/Vegan only, great energy, and an awesome late-night Happy Hour.
Favorite Places to Go Out (Pre-Covid):
Meadowlark — I love to go dancing here. An underground, gritty music venue with a funky connected outdoor patio. Milk — Imagine a bar/club with 8+ different rooms all with different themes and music. That’s Milk and it’s amazing. Pon Pon — An art gallery inside a bar with great cocktails. Need I say more? Finn’s Manor — Colorful outdoor spot with rotating food trucks, punches, and live Salsa music on Friday nights. Improper City — Great indoor/outdoor spot for larger groups with rotating food trucks and a great variety of bevvys.
Favorite Brew Spots:
Ratio — Local, Denver brewery with a great outdoor patio. Recess Beer Garden— An awesome beer garden for a beautiful summer day with friends. Odell’s — I love doing work here and they always have the best IPA’s. Stem Ciders — Not a brewery, but this cider spot frequents live music and has really great dry ciders (my favorites). First Draft — Not a brewery but you’ll get your own “debit card” and can self-pour from a wall of 30+ beers.
Favorite Things to Do:
RiNo Murals — The murals in RiNo are a must-see (especially Fireside at Five’s community mural of Representative Leslie Herod at Improper City. City Park — Take a walk or bike ride and check out this park (with great Denver views). You can even rent out paddle boats! Denver Art Museum — The exhibits are always changing, but the quality of exhibits stay the same (amaaazing). Denver Union Station — It’s a must for first-time guests (drinks at The Cooper Lounge, anyone?) Dairy Block — A great shopping micro-district. You could spend a full day here bopping into stores, bars, and restaurants. Cherry Creek Bike Trail — Grab your bike and get lost on the trail. Plus, you’ll truly get a full tour of Denver. Head to the Mountains — The beauty of Denver is its accessibility to the mountains. Get out and ski, bike, hike — whatever you want!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’m going to dedicate this shoutout to my Co-Founder and Partner, Connor Holmes. While I may be the face of Fireside at Five, he is the backbone and reason that we’ve made it this far. Not only is he incredibly creative, collaborative, and thoughtful but he’s also a marketing genius and has taught me so much about running a successful business. I owe him the world and I’m incredibly grateful that he’s on this journey with me.
Connor Holmes Jeff Fierberg Gertie Harris