Just over a year after Cold Crush owner Brian Mathenge teamed up with Scott Bagus to open Rock Steady in Bagus’s former Curtis Club, three new owners have taken over the space.
Meghan DePonceau, a comedian with a long history of managing bars, fellow Buffalo, New York, native and comedian Jeremy Pysher, and Steven Claustre, who’s been running the event company Deny Boredom for the last four years, will keep the Rock Steady name for the next few months, offering entertainment every night of the week, including comedy, trivia, live music and karaoke. But at the end of January, Rock Steady will close for good. The space will be remodeled and open in early 2020 as Fizz, an ’80s-themed seltzery that will brew and include a taproom.
Rock Steady is currently closed, but will reopen on Thursday, October 17, with a comedy show. A karaoke party will follow on Friday, October 18.
The idea for Fizz came when DePonceau, Pysher and some friends were at a pool, drinking Oskar Blues Wild Basin Boozy Sparkling Water. They were talking about the seltzer trend, and a friend mentioned that if White Claw goes public, he’d buy stock.
“It clicked,” DePonceau says, "that it’s been a very manufactured product instead of a product that could be something fun. Breweries are successful business models. So, what if we were a little more kitschy, a little more weird?”
In keeping with the kitschy theme, DePonceau wants to install a white-marble Miami Vice-style bar. She says more design details will get solidified in the next few months.
The trio also wants to pay homage to the building’s previous incarnation: Old Curtis Street, where Los Comicos Super Hilariosos, the comedy collective of Adam Cayton-Holland, Andrew Orvedahl, Greg Baumhauer and Ben Roy, got its start. DePonceau and Pysher will move their Ripen Comedy Night, one of the busiest comedy open mics in Denver, from Stoney's to their new venue, and dedicate at least one other night to comedy.
DePonceau says Denver has the best comedy scene in the country.
“I think it’s the best place to cut your teeth to become a comic,” DePonceau says, “because there are so many amazing shows here and so many awesome producers. The packed shows as opposed to sort of the sadness that comes along with New York and Los Angeles. There’s a component with New York and L.A., which is that you’re working really hard to get discovered, while I think here you’re working really hard to do that show that night. There’s an authenticity.
“I’m not trying to negate those scenes, but I just think that’s what’s different here. And there are so many breweries and distilleries and hopefully seltzeries that are providing free or very cheap shows, and they’re not always the best acoustics or a theater setting, but that’s how you get good at comedy. And that is why so many great comedians are coming out of Denver right now, and why so many are buckling down and staying.”
DePonceau says they want to build a good comedy showcase, similar what the now-defunct El Charrito offered. The bar hosted karaoke after comedy shows, and comedians would frequently hang out with the audience after their performances.
“We’re really trying to get that rhythm back,” DePonceau says. “I feel like there’s been an emptiness in the scene since El Charrito closed.”