By Isa Jones
By Mary Willson
By Brian Turk
By Drew AIles
By Taylor Boylston
By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
While I'm not superstitious, it seems 13 might have been an unlucky number for Debbie and Martin Pykonnen. Then again, the most damaging and unfortunate string of digits for the 13th Street Wine Bar owners was probably 5280. Earlier this year, after an unfavorable review in that Mile High magazine, business at the Pykonnens' Golden locale suffered. They closed the vino venue on October 30 and handed over the keys to Tedd and Joylynn Johnson, the space's new owners. By Tuesday, November 2, Blue Canyon Bar & Grill had opened in its place.
Credit Cody O'Leary with the lightning-quick turnaround: Blue Canyon's proprietor/manager has sixteen years of service-industry expertise, plus an incentive to impress the Johnsons -- who gave O'Leary their financial backing as a chance to prove himself and eventually take ownership of the tavern. During the two weeks prior to his taking over, O'Leary visited the wine bar to let customers know what was happening and gather feedback. The personal touch explains Blue Canyon's success in its first week, without advertising or even a permanent sign. (A neon beacon's on order; a banner from Coors currently marks the spot.)
Changes to the building's interior -- including pool tables, a dart board and the venue's own sound system -- are minor compared to the overhaul O'Leary effected on customer service. His informal polls of Blue Canyon neighbors show his dedication to making this a place people can come to have fun. But in case that wasn't convincing enough, O'Leary is also installing equipment for draft beer and rebuilding the kitchen to offer an extensive menu, with low-fat and low-carb lists to be available on request. Until the canteen remodel is completed, visitors at Blue Canyon can enjoy karaoke, open mike and live music throughout the week.
Aurora residents have somewhere new to hide for the holidays, too, thanks to Kris Schultz-Bertinelli and his Tower Sports Grill. With former tenants at the Tower's 14050 East Evans Avenue location including Dickey's Barbecue Pit, High Tide Fresh Seafood Grille and the Lazy Dog, plus neighbors such as Joe's Crab Shack and Outback Steakhouse, it'd be easy to feel intimidated. Unlike his predecessors, though, Schultz-Bertinelli has no plans to compete with the surrounding restaurants and will offer a basic bar-standard menu (he's particularly proud of its wings). He figures the fifteen big-screen TVs, dollar PBR drafts seven days a week and clean, casual environment will be more than enough to keep patrons coming back. Tower also offers entertainment after dark, with poker tournaments, live bands and acoustic guitar on its weekly agenda. Skip the sterile restaurant chains and settle in at the Grill. You can give all the money you'll save to the band.