By Jamie Swinnerton
By Mark Antonation
By Lori Midson
By Jonathan Shikes
By Amber Taufen
By Cafe Society
By Juliet Wittman
By Jonathan Shikes
Okay, so you've got this great concept for a nightclub -- an Austro-Bulgarian hip-hop joint, some all-Japanese speed-metal sushi bar, whatever -- but no place to set up shop. Well, I've got good news for you: a zillion square feet just opened up in a prime location at the Denver Pavilions, when Sevilla -- the Latino steakhouse/flamenco joint/nightspot that last got some ink in this column when its ownership group, Sevilla Entertainment, and its operator, Bart DeLorenzo, were sued by Charo ("The Reign in Spain," June 5) -- was evicted from its upstairs digs. Sevilla had moved into the former home of Cafe Odyssey (a hideous concept that let you eat in a Disney-like Machu Picchu or Atlantis) in February 2002, leaving behind its subterranean spot in the Icehouseat 1801 Wynkoop Street. (That space will soon hold another nightclub, Lush.) Sevilla had only been pumpin' bass and servin' tapas at the Pavilions for twenty months -- but those twenty months were rough, filled with court orders, lawsuits, bankruptcy filings, Charo and the shuttering of the Las Vegas Sevilla at the Aladdin Casino.
Now, with Sevilla's eviction from Pavilions, all that's left are debts -- which run into the millions -- and a message on the Sevilla answering machine recorded by DeLorenzo himself: "Due to circumstances beyond our control, we were forced to close Sevilla by our landlords, the Denver Pavilions mall." And that's true if you happen to consider the non-payment of over a hundred grand in rent to be a circumstance beyond your control. DeLorenzo blames the soft economy. Pavilions management blames Sevilla.
"First there was the bankruptcy in Las Vegas," says Susan Cantwell, Pavilions general manager. And like lots of folks who take a gamble in Sin City, DeLorenzo and company "lost their shirt," she adds. "I think they lost their focus on Denver while they were in Vegas."
28055 Highway 74
Evergreen, CO 80439
Category: Bars and Clubs
Region: West Denver Suburbs
Toward the end, Cantwell says, it looked like Sevilla's Denver business had begun to stabilize -- but at a level so low that DeLorenzo hadn't forked over rent money in months. Oddly enough, Sevilla Entertainment didn't file for bankruptcy protection in Denver (some blame confusion between the company's lawyers, others chalk it up to last year's chaos), and now it's too late to save the Pavilions address. Earlier this month, those doors were locked and the property seized.
Which means you could probably get a good deal on some slightly used Styrofoam stalactites right now.
DeLorenzo says he's "optimistic that we'll be able to reopen Sevilla, soon, in another beautiful location." But the landlord of that location might want to ask for cash up front.
As for DeLorenzo's former landlord, this was the Pavilions' second high-profile closure in less than six months (the first was that Margarita Mama's/Banana Joe's Island Party debacle), leaving a total of almost 50,000 square feet of vacuum right there in the middle of the balance sheet. "From a cash-flow standpoint, I've got to tell you, it's painful," says Cantwell. "When you're a landlord of restaurants, you expect this kind of thing. But it's tough with these two coming right on top of each other like this."
At least one of her vacancies is about to start generating cash. When Jon Field bailed on his 35,000-square-foot Margaritaville nightmare, longtime local restaurateur/nightlife impresario Curt Sims sailed right in and took over a space filled with racks of TVs, a nearly new light-and-sound system, and room enough to do nearly anything his club-kid heart desired. What he chose was an upstairs/downstairs arrangement that will put Lefty's Cabo Cantina, a restaurant, on the third floor, and Beyond, a nightclub, on the second.
Can Sims, who's most recently given us Larimer Square's Lime and Cielo, pull this off, too? We'll find out when he opens the doors sometime within the month.
Casey at the bat: It was a big night for Boone, and it was a big night for Calloway.
Last Thursday's Menu Affair (sponsored by Westword at Invesco Field) pitted chef John Calloway from the Hilltop Cafe in Golden against three-time Steel Chef champion and crowd favorite Frank Bonanno from Mizunaand Luca d'Italia in a 45-minute, winner-take-all culinary battle royale. Running concurrently was game seven of the American League championship game at Yankee Stadium, with the Yanks and the Red Sox locked in their own mortal struggle for a shot at the World Series, all of it brought live to the crowds at Invesco on every TV in the joint.
It was a night for underdogs, for guys who'd been counted out almost before the game had started. It was a night for surprises. It was a night for Richard Nixon.
Yup, that's right: Nixon. I came on board this year as a mystery judge for the Steel Chef match, serving alongside Penny Parker from the Rocky Mountain News; Lori Midson, formerly of 5280 and now doing the food-and-travel beat for Colorado Avid Golfer; and Rob Meitzer from Johnson & Wales University. Kitted out in my presidential finery -- one latex Tricky Dick mask, a pair of three-dollar sunglasses and a black T-shirt labeling me as an ANONYMOUS RESTAURANT CRITIC -- I looked like a complete dork sitting up there drinking beer through a straw and trying to knock back shots of tequila without accidentally unmasking myself before the throngs. But a little embarrassment was a small price to pay, because this was the bigtime. The Steel Chef match was about more than getting your name stuck on a trophy; it was about bragging rights and about someone getting to raise his hand in victory. And while it may not have been a grudge match or carried the kind of historic rivalry that exists between the Sox and the Yankees, both Bonanno and Calloway had come to win.