By Isa Jones
By Mary Willson
By Brian Turk
By Drew AIles
By Taylor Boylston
By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
When brothers Kevin and Craig Caldwell took over the former Aroma Cafe at 2017 South University Boulevard near the end of 2009, they'd hoped to reopen the spot as the Crimson & Gold Tavern in the spring. But in February, they were denied a liquor license; turns out the address was within 500 feet of the Ricks Center for Gifted Children at the University of Denver. Finally, after months of discussion with DU and some help from Denver City Council president Chris Nevitt, who represents that district, the Caldwells got their license in August.
Andy Caldwell, Crimson & Gold's general manager and Craig's son, now says they hope to have the place open this weekend or next. Andy is a DU graduate and thinks the neighborhood could use a good sports bar/restaurant; his father and uncle, who grew up near the school and went to DU football and hockey games, agree. The Caldwells are also the folks behind Brooklyn's, so this family knows their sports bars — and they're counting on the DU-themed tavern to draw pre- and post-game crowds, whether the game is hockey, basketball, soccer or lacrosse. "It's a place to grab a burger before the hockey game and a beer or two afterward," Andy says. "That was kind of the feel we were going for."
The walls that used to divide the Aroma Cafe (and Pita Jungle before that) have been taken down to make the 3,500-square-foot space one big room. A decent-sized patio, which will eventually be covered and open year-round, was also added in the back. And since Crimson & Gold now has its hard-fought cabaret license, Andy says they might occasionally bring in bands and DJs, too.
Club scout: After a fast overhaul of the former Lizard's Bar & Grill space at 1920 Blake Street, Hayter's & Co. officially opened last week. Mike Hayter and Mike Refling moved down from Bozeman, Montana, to create this sports bar that has a bit of a throwback feel. Hanging on one wall are framed, enlarged baseball cards of players from the '70s and '80s, including Rollie Fingers, Pete Ladd and Bruce Sutter; the 6,200-square-foot space also sports Beer Ball, Super Shot and Buck Hunter games. Once they get the staff and kitchen dialed in, Hayter says, they'll throw a grand-opening party. But in the meantime, the bar is pouring, and Hayter's already has several specials set. In addition to a happy hour that runs from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, there will be daily deals on drinks and food, as well as beer pong on Tuesday nights. And Sunday is service-industry night.
Gin & Sin Speakeasy recently moved into to the former Jezebel's Juke Joint space at 3862 High Street, which went dark in May. The joint is throwing a 1920s-themed costume party on Friday, September 24; it's hosted by Brave New World Custom Tattoo and Newspeak Custom Tattoo, and Tijuana Pillbox will be laying down the blues, rock and funk. On Saturday, September 25, Gin & Sin will hold a benefit for Big Dogs Huge Paws, serving $4 Salty Dogs from 4 to 8 p.m.
Chris Vrenna, the Marilyn Manson keyboardist and former Nine Inch Nails drummer, will be at Beauty Bar (608 East 13th Avenue) for a DJ set on Friday, September 24. Paul Italiano, who owns FashioNation across the street, will kick the night off with a DJ set of his own. And on Saturday, September 25, the Swayback's Eric Halborg and Bill Murphy will host Rent Party, their monthly DJ night at Beauty Bar.