The Denver Wheel Club 404 officially opened for business this week, with a theme echoing a distant Denver: In the 1890s, when bicycles outnumbered people, there was actually an upscale club called the Denver Wheel Club.
Denver Wheel Club 404, the reincarnation of the former Club 404, is a modern space with hints of the past, a spot designed to attract Denver Cruisers, old Club 404 regulars and wheelers and dealers of all sorts. "We're more about wheels than just bikes," says Brad Evans, who is responsible for the design of the refurbished Club 404. "Sure, it's our theme, but we're going to have car clubs meet here, low-rider clubs, motorcycles...we're going to do stuff with the roller derby, skateboards."
Bkes are still clearly the main attraction, though: Simple bicycle artwork and posters line the walls, and actual bicycles are displayed, hanging from the ceilings and propped along the floor. Bits of the original Club 404, which was owned by the Feld family for sixty years, still lurk behind the shiny new bicycles (part of Evans's personal bike collection).
Evans consciously kept some of Club 404's dingy-yet-iconic features. "When they put this up in the '50s it was white and the years of smoking in here turned it brown," he says, pointing to the ceiling above the bar. "I think history is important and the neighborhood was worried it was going to become another yuppie place on Broadway."
Instead, Evans hopes Denver Wheel Club 404 will draw the older crowd of Club 404 regulars, as well as a younger generation. "The beautiful thing about the cruiser rides is it's kind of like a snapshot of 21- to 85-year-olds, and that's really what this audience is going to end up being," he explains.The renovated space includes flatscreen TVs that will televise the Tour de France and USA Pro Cycling Challenge, in addition to such sporting mainstays as football, basketball and baseball.
Kitchen manager Nick Bruno, who previously worked in a kitchen for Vail Resorts, says he's excited to run a smaller, independent kitchen. But he's even more excited to replace Club 404's old kitchen ventilation system. "Once we get fully open and that new hood gets put in, we'll be seeing some pretty good food coming through here," he says.
Bruno plans to serve gourmet-style bar food (both vegan and non-vegan options), with the club's bicycle theme in mind. "Big thing on the menu I think is the Wheel Club," he says, describing an atypical club sandwich with much more than just ham, turkey, mayo and cheese. "I want to do a California spin on it, maybe add some sprouts and avocado, that kind of thing. We'll have a veggie Wheel Club and a regular Wheel Club."
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But not until next week, when the kitchen starts serving food. In the meantime, Denver Wheel Club 404 is open for drinks from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
On the next page, see photos of the original Club 404 -- and the new Denver Wheel Club 404.
Photos of the side room at Denver Wheel Club 404 -- the dining room that Club 404 added years ago -- are on the next page.