"Come in, pull up a chair. Let's make memories." So reads the sign affixed to the plywood barrier separating the sidewalk of South Broadway from what will soon become Englewood Grand, a new bar scheduled to open in downtown Englewood at the end of February. Englewood Grand is the project of Phil and Erika Zierke, Englewood residents who are turning a former consignment camping-gear shop into a gathering place for neighbors, friends and employees of local businesses, including the nearby Swedish Medical Center.
Phil Zierke has been around the Denver bartending scene for some time now, having worked at the Candlelight Tavern and Horseshoe Lounge on the divey end of the spectrum and at Green Russell and Mercantile Dining & Provision on the posh end. Although he loves making creative cocktails, he says he's taking a wait-and-see approach to the kind of drinks his Englewood Grand customers will want. "If someone wants a Negroni with a shot of Red Bull, I'll give it to them," he jokes. "I won't judge."
The drinks roster will be split evenly between beer and spirits and will include a chalkboard list of house cocktails, Phil adds. For food, there will be enough crock-pot-style offerings — along the lines of vegetarian chili and loose-meat sandwiches (a Midwestern specialty similar to sloppy Joes) — to keep customers fed without distracting from the fact that the Grand will be a bar first and foremost.
To help build community, discounts will be offered to health-care and social workers, teachers and industry employees. "We just want it to be a classic bar," Erika explains. "As if maybe it's been around for 100 years or maybe it just opened."
The Zierkes also plan on giving employees an ownership stake in the bar. "We want people in the service industry who work for us to be able to support a family," Erika explains.
To help build the ambiance of the neighborhood bar they're envisioning, the pair are decorating the space with dark woods, including floor tiles made from end-cut wooden squares. Rather than buying a commercial product, the Zierkes cut 16,000 tiles from four-by-four posts and invited friends and neighbors in for a day of sanding in exchange for future free drinks.
Other design elements include benches recovered from the original Odd Fellows lodge two doors down and bathrooms that Erika hopes will be among the nicest in town.
With a recent changes in landlords on the block, there's now a bigger push toward historic preservation that could make downtown Englewood more of a destination neighborhood like Olde Town Arvada, she points out. Signs of change include a new Palango Fitness studio next door (in the original Englewood Herald office), a new craft brewery — Down House Brewing — going in a block over on Lincoln Street, and Devil's Head Distillery making a go of it just to the north on Acoma Street. Several other vacant addresses have "for lease" signs up in the windows, including the old El Tepehuan space, which could soon see a fun new Asian concept.
The Zierkes are aiming to open Englewood Grand by the third week in February and will throw a grand-opening bash in early April once business is in full swing.