After Brian Haddad and David Weiss bought The Border, a University of Denver hangout for more than three decades, they didn't waste any time. They closed the deal on a Friday in late January, brought in a lot of people to clean the joint over the weekend, and had all new vendors and everything else in place in time to open the following Tuesday.
The Border had been closed since November, when its liquor license was suspended because the bar had been caught serving an underage drinker in July — its fourth official under-age violation since February 2006. From the start, the new owners knew they had to put a stop to underage drinking. "We have the systems in place to limit that," Haddad says. But they're going to build on other traditions of the 32-year-old watering hole. "The bar has always been a staple for the DU students, alumni, grad students, and we definitely want to keep that history," he continues. "But at the same time, we're also looking to build on what they didn't do before. We have amazing food right now, and we have one of the most aggressive and customer-friendly happy hours."
Those happy hours, which run from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 1 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, include $2 domestic drafts, $6 pitchers, $2 wells and wines and a $3 appetizer menu. The regular menu features more than twenty burgers, including the Pioneer Challenge: a three-pound beast made with nine 1/3-pound patties, nine pieces of cheese, lettuce, tomato, coleslaw and fries. If you can eat the whole thing in less than twenty minutes, it's free — and you get your name and picture on the wall. But in the six weeks since this new, improved Border has been open, no one has been able to put the whole thing down.
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Haddad and Weiss, who also own Breakers Cafe inside the Breakers Resort apartment complex in Denver and Parkside Cafe in the Palomino Park Resort complex in Highlands Ranch, have also stepped up the Border's entertainment offerings, with DJs four nights a week, live music on Fridays, karaoke and trivia on Mondays, ladies' night on Tuesdays (gals drink free from 8 to 11 p.m.) and Texas Hold 'Em on Wednesdays. The Thursday- and Saturday-night Bump & Grind parties are so busy that the place is shoulder to shoulder, Haddad says.
Whether it's a testament to the popularity of the Border or just a sign of the economy, when Haddad posted an ad on Craigslist looking for employees, he got 800 responses in five days, he says. He interviewed 105 people and wound up hiring 18. And the way things are going, he may have to hire more. The new owners have lots of other ideas, but they're going to wait on those so that they don't interrupt service during the school year. "Come this summer," Haddad promises, "we've got some renovation ideas that we're going to build on."
Club scout: DJs Low Key and Sounds Supreme started the Solution in order to create the kind of party they'd want to go to — and while the weekly, underground hip-hop nights have gotten bigger and better over the years, Low Key says it's still the same party. But now the duo is moving the Solution to bigger digs: Bar Standard (1037 Broadway), in the same building where the Solution got its start, in the basement at Milk. "In almost two and a half years at the Funky Buddha, we were able to do a lot of cool events," he explains, "but we've definitely reached a point where there's not a whole lot more we can do there. The rooftop is great and all, but it is somewhat limiting. Plus, two and a half years is longer than most nightclubs' or bars' life spans, so we felt it was time for something new and exciting, for both us and the people who come out to the party every Friday."
Denver has one of the biggest goth/industrial scenes in the country, according to promoter and label owner Dave Vendetta, but he says he always had a hard time finding venues for shows, especially since Rock Island closed. Then he found The Roxy (2549 Welton Street), which is open to such events as Club Hellbound, a bi-weekly EBM/goth/industrial night on the second and fourth Friday of the month, with DJ Deathwish and Slave1. While most Hellbound nights will be at the Roxy, the next one will take place on March 12 at Tracks, 3500 Walnut Street, and will feature guest DJ Chris Vrenna, who is Marilyn Manson's keyboardist and Nine Inch Nails' former drummer.