A cigar-smoking buddy of mine dragged me into the original Purple Martini on 15th Street (between Market and Larimer streets) back in the mid-'90s, when it was one of the first martini lounges in town. We were sitting in a booth, and my friend had just lit up a stogie when a guy wearing a tan trenchcoat sauntered up, looked around, bent over the table and asked if we wanted to buy some Cuban cigars. From the way he'd approached us, he might as well have been trying to unload a crack rock or his twelve-year-old daughter.
But that wasn't as bizarre as the night in June 2007 when I got sucked into the vortex of the Miss LoDo contest at Le Rouge, which had moved into the old Purple Martini space a few months earlier. I was fascinated — and confused — as I watched all these rail-thin gals parade around and answer asinine questions; I think I might have been thrown off by all the red — walls, booths, lights and hottie waitresses wrapped up in red bustiers. "Rouge" means "red" in French, after all, and although I'd never been to a French brothel, I thought I could guess where the club's decorator had gotten his inspiration.
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Le Rouge closed last year in the midst of a messy business dispute, and now former Le Rouge owner Ray Jafari has reopened the spot as Lavish Restaurant and Lounge (1448 Market Street). The first thing I noticed when I stepped inside last Wednesday was the lack of red. While Le Rouge's red overload was overwhelming, Lavish's blacks and grays are a bit more inviting, and the decor is definitely easier on the eyes.
Club scout: Come Valentine's Day, the once biker-friendly Mozart Lounge (1417 Krameria Street) will reopen as a gay-friendly piano bar. Patrick Vigil and Laurence Sermo, who've owned the Barker Lounge (255 South Broadway) for the past five years, recently purchased the Mozart, which opened fifty years ago and has been at this Mayfair location since 1981. They'll be remodeling the spot over the next few weeks and will celebrate the grand reopening on Saturday, February 14, with local Elton John tribute band the Honky Cats.
There was no cure for the Recovery Room (819 Colorado Boulevard) after the University of Colorado moved its health-sciences facilities to Fitzsimons. Doctors, nurses and health-care professionals would often frequent this dive; without them, the business flatlined. The door and window are now boarded up, and a notice of public sale declares that the bar's owner, CMJ Enterprises, owes the state $8,398.18 in back taxes.
Happier news: Francois Safieddine, who opened Suite Two Hundred (1427 Larimer Street) in August, will throw his own birthday soiree at his club 24K (1416 Market Street) on Thursday, February 5; he also owns Monarck and 5 Degrees — which introduced the fine-dining-in-a-club concept at the same time Le Rouge did but managed to last. And on Saturday, February 7, Wish (511 West Colfax Avenue) will host the Exotic Dancer of the Year Competition, with up to twenty gals from six local cabarets performing exotic topless routines. It's $10 for guys, $5 for ladies, and free for gals dressed in exotic sensual attire.