By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
By Gina Tron
By Jon Solomon
By Drew Ailes
By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
Noah Ray McMahan would go to the Snake Pit twice a week when he was in college back in the '90s. And this fall, after stints in New York and Las Vegas, he moved back to Denver and, along with former promoter and architect Justin Martinez, who designed Bar Standard and City Hall, bought the venue at 608 East 13th Avenue. Now they're knee-deep in remodeling projects at the spot, which had close to a twenty-year run as the Snake Pit; they plan to reopen it as Beauty Bar in late January.
Beauty Bar got its start in New York City in 1995, when Paul Devitt turned a four-decade-old salon into a saloon. He kept much of its vintage glory intact, including the classic metal hair dryers. Since then, he's opened Beauty Bars in such cities as Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Austin, and he's partnering with Martinez and McMahan in Denver. In keeping with the '50s beauty parlor aesthetic, this 3, 200-square-foot location will have checkered floors, walls painted with retro designs and furnishings salvaged from old salons. McMahan says they also had a low-rider shop reupholster booths and chairs left over from the Snake Pit in black and silver glitter vinyl.
Now they're in the process of adding heavy soundproofing, since neighbors had complained about the music coming out of the Snake Pit. McMahan says they're installing a German-made KS Audio system, which will make Beauty Bar the first venue in Colorado to have this beauty of a system. Although other Beauty Bars feature live music, McMahan plans to feature DJs for the first year, putting them in both the front and main rooms. But he's definitely incorporating the signature Martini and Manicure happy hour, which got its start in New York; here it will run from 6 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays.
Club scout: While Beauty Bar is the first big news for 2010, the club scene saw plenty of action in 2009. In January, One Eyed Jacks opened in the former Continental Club at 475 Santa Fe Drive; by September, it had closed. Also in January, owner Ray Jafari reopened the former La Rouge at 1448 Market Street as Lavish Restaurant and Lounge; it's still in business. In February, Posh Ultra Lounge opened in the onetime home of Skin/Midtown Beat/Deadbeat at 4040 East Evans Avenue.
Wish Nightclub, which had opened in September 2008 in the old Alley Cat spot above the Diamond Cabaret, at 511 West Colfax Avenue, closed in April; Diamond After Dark will open in the space on New Year's Eve. Also in April, Casselman's Bar & Venue took over the second incarnation of Shakespeare's, at 2620 Walnut Street. In May, the Red Room (320 East Colfax Avenue) closed; that same month, the Roadhouse opened at 701 Carbondale Drive in Dacono, and Bill Ward debuted his miniBAR at 222 Columbine in Cherry Creek. In July, Francois Safieddine turned the former Monarck space, at 1414 Market Street, into the Oak Tavern, a high-end sports bar. Also this summer, Jet Entertainment Group opened Jet South in the former Purple Martini DTC location, at 8000 East Belleview Avenue in Greenwood Village — but it's already closed. Martini Ranch as well as Basement, both at 1317 14th Street, closed at the end of July; the space is still for lease. But the Blue Moo'd Lounge, a jazz and blues club that opened in July at 5950 South Platte Canyon Drive in Littleton, is still going strong.
August saw the opening of Regas Christou's Living Room at 1055 Broadway, and Club RA's attempted resurrection in the former Loft location, at 821 22nd Street (Club RA was gone after three months). In September, the Bianchi brothers sold Dulcinea's 100th Monkey, at 717 East Colfax Avenue, to former Sancho's bartender Pete Penzastadler, who reopened the spot as Pete's Monkey Bar. The Aurora Summit, at 2700 Havana Street in Aurora, renamed its bar the Cabin Bar in September.
In October, Paul Piciocchi closed Thëorie, the bar at 1920 Market Street that he'd taken over just the year before; a sports bar is slated to go in that space. But in November, Piciocchi opened The Drink, the first of three smaller venues that now occupy the former home of Alto, at 1320 15th Street. (The other two: Mix Music Lounge and Rack & Rye.) Around the corner, the SportsBook celebrated its grand opening in the former Lure Lounge space, at 1434 Blake Street, in November. That same month, the Jazzmatazz Lounge appeared next to Limón at 1612 East 17th Avenue, and Twisted Olive got twisted at 8270 Northfield Boulevard. And on December 1, ZanZBar Billiards opened at 2046 Larimer Street.
The b.side lounge, which opened in May 2008 in the former Trilogy Wine Bar space at 2017 13th Street in Boulder, will be closing after New Year's Eve. And there's more action on New Year's Day in the former Bianchi brothers empire. They sold Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom and Quixote's True Blue to Duncan Goodman, Joshua Sonnenberg and Jeff Howell a few months ago; on January 1, Quixote's True Blue, which is next to Cervantes', will be renamed Cervantes' Other Side, and Owsley's Golden Road, at 2151 Lawrence Street, which the Bianchis kept, will become Quixote's True Blue. Both spots will be open at 7 a.m. New Year's Day, with Shakedown Street playing at Quixote's and Mountain Standard Time playing at Cervantes' Other Side.