Rob Lanphier split off from B.U.F.F. Brothers, which owns several taverns in the metro area, and started a new company last fall: Pour Kids. Noonan's Tavern (13521 East Iliff Avenue in Aurora), which B.U.F.F. had opened in March 2011, is part of the Pour Kids group; so is Boone's Tavern, which Lanphier opened in the former home of Fagan's (1135 East Evans Avenue) in November. And now the family has a third member: the resurrected HandleBar Tavern, at 305 South Downing Street.
Lanphier actually bought the place, which was then the Downing St. Bar & Grill, before he opened Boone's, and kept it open — but he didn't start making changes right away. First he wanted to get access to the HandleBar name, since the spot had enjoyed a long run as the Handlebar Bar & Grill before it became Downing St. He secured the rights and officially changed the name of the place at the start of this year, and now the remodeling job — which included taking down a dividing wall that separated the dining room from the bar and opening it up into one big space — is about 80 percent done, Lanphier says. He also installed about 25 TVs and a new sound system.
When finished, the resurrected HandleBar will fall in with Pour Kids' "stateriotic" concept of serving locally sourced beer and spirits. Lanphier says he's gradually changing over the menu, as well, reducing it from Downing St.'s nearly 280 items to about 160. "We're changing it over, but not as quickly as I'd like," he adds. "I didn't want to upset the customers who have been coming there for a long time. I wanted to see some of the staples that they really wanted. We're doing stuff that's a lot more breakfast on the weekends than we do at any of our other bars. We kept a lot of things like omelets and pancakes — which is, surprisingly, a huge seller."
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The HandleBar also serves up live music on Fridays, rock-and-roll bingo on Wednesdays, and Geeks Who Drink pub trivia on Thursdays.
Club scout: After more than two years, Mo's (1037 Broadway) has gone dark. Also closed is the Rex Lounge (2936 Fox Street), though reportedly just for renovations; it's slated to reopen this spring.
The Oak Tavern (1414 Market Street) recently launched All Access Fridays, a live-music series featuring bands that will be filmed for PBS/Free Speech TV's 303 All Access. That show, which focuses on up-and-coming rock, reggae, hip-hop, alt-rock and acoustic acts, airs at 10 p.m. Saturday nights on Channel 12 locally, as well as nationally on Free Speech TV. All Access Fridays shows start at 9 p.m., and there's no cover.
The folks behind Venomous Vixens, Sound Level Music and Darkside Productionz have also introduced another weekly event: EDM Fridays at the Reef Nightclub (2137 South Sheridan Boulevard), with resident DJs Lady Sage & Lowa, E-Rav and Fuzzy.