By Brad Lopez
By Tom Murphy
By Noah Hubbell
By Inkoo Kang
By Dave Herrerra
By Josiah M. Hesse
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While the Ballpark neighborhood still has the town's highest concentration of sports bars, the 1400 blocks of Market and Blake streets could soon be giving them a run for their money.
In July, Francois Safieddine opened the Oak Tavern in the former home of Monarck, at 1427 Market Street, just down from Maloney's Tavern (1432 Market) and across the street from Nalen's (1429 Market) and the Pour House Pub (1435 Market). Compared to his other clubs, the Oak is fairly casual, with a manly vibe and food and drink specials during Broncos games.
And come October 1, the Sports Book is slated to open in the old Lure space, at 1434 Blake Street. Mark Strazisar, who's partnered with Lure owner Jetmir "Tito" Zymeri, calls the club "the next chapter in sport entertainment." Sure, they'll be showing games on 26 TVs throughout the place, but they'll also offer entertainment that creates more interaction between staff and patrons. A veteran of quite a few clubs in Denver, including I-Beam, Lucky Star, Lime and Sutra, Strazisar explains that they plan to take a nightclub approach and actually entertain guests instead of just opening a sports bar and letting those games provide the entertainment.
To that end, the main floor will have a library theme complete with books, ladders and girls dressed as librarians, who will direct guests on that night's specials. They might climb up the ladders and toss Nerf balls that say "Bring me back for a free shot." Or they might play games with patrons at the Wii station. Some of the TVs will have remotes, so that customers can choose what they want to watch, Strazisar notes. There will also be a DVR menu, which will allow people to watch games from the previous week. The front half of the second level, dubbed the Luxury Box, will be designed like a complete home theater, with four TVs and a closed-circuit TV that shows everything that's going on downstairs. The back half of the second level will double as an area that can be rented out for private events and serve as a mini-dance club at night.
And then there's the food: By tapping chef Michel Wahaltere (MiniBAR, 5 Degrees, 9th Door), Strazisar says the Sports Book will show it's as serious about its food as it is about its entertainment. Wahaltere calls it "serious food for serious sports" and plans a lineup of small "concept" plates as well as meatloaf, pot pies, short ribs and shrimp and grits. Guests will also be able to customize macaroni and cheese with ham, bacon, shrimp and truffles.
While the Lure lasted just a few years, Strazisar hopes that with its expanded sports theme, the Sports Book will have a longer run. "It's nice not to have to reinvent yourself every three years," Strazisar says. "Denver has a short attention span. But girls and sports will never go out of fashion."
Club scout: Last week, Maloney's Vince Martinez nabbed first place at Hpnotiq's bartender competition at Suite Two Hundred (1427 Larimer Street), beating out eight other bartenders who all had to make drinks featuring Hpnotiq, a liqueur made from a blend of vodka, cognac and natural tropical fruit juices. Martinez got top scores in creativity, presentation, technique and overall taste with his Notiq Rupture concoction, which included raspberry vodka, fresh muddled pineapple, basil seed juice and, of course, Hpnotiq. The drink is now featured at Suite Two Hundred.
Back around the corner, on the 1400 block of Market, 24K (1414 Market Street) will host Erik's Angels, featuring hair stylist Erik Emblen, on Friday, September 25. Ladies get free Perrier-Jouët champagne from 9 to 11 p.m., and the most heavenly looking gal decked out in angelic attire will receive a complimentary cut and color from Emblen, as well as a professional photo shoot with Michael Beckerman and a chance to appear in a Lotus Concepts ad.