Club Nights

Club Scout

Pardon the mess and forget the name -- that's my advice for anyone who stopped by Punch & Judy's, Littleton's low-key lounge at 6657 South Broadway, before last Saturday's grand opening. When I visited a week ago, the carpeting still wasn't finished -- and that was cutting things close for Kevin McGrath, one of the bar's new owners, who wanted all the drinking-area changes complete for the July 24 fete. Even while stealthfully remodeling, though, he'd kept the place open for nearby residents and music lovers drawn to the venue's weekend bands and twice-weekly karaoke nights. Those Saturday-night bands should enjoy the lounge's most notable change: a shiny, hardwood-floor entertainment area.

Most notable change as of last week, that is. Because guests at Saturday's grand opening got to enter a contest to rename the entire joint. Although McGrath and his partners in the venture already had a few monikers in mind, they wanted to see what suggestions their customers might come up with. "The more minds, the merrier," he says, although they'd originally planned to make their final decision that same night, if they were "sober enough."

No matter what you call it, the club adds an appealing option for locals interested in live music who might be afraid to venture into some of South Broadway's seedier-looking lairs. And it isn't the only one. New owners recently overhauled a venue just a hop away, at 5302 South Federal Circle: the former Horny Toad Tavern, which McGrath says he used as a model for his own place. The impressive overhaul of the no-longer-horny Toad Tavern convinced McGrath that he could make similar magic happen at Punch & Judy's.

In addition to the remodeled common spaces and the new name, McGrath has more changes on the way, including the updates necessary for a working kitchen and, he hopes, a patio area. He's currently "jumping through the hoops with Littleton to get a deck built," he says. But that exercise should prepare him for the next rough goal that he and his girlfriend/business partner have in mind: They're "going to move downtown and open up a real nice club," McGrath says. So far, the plan is no more concrete than a desire for a place with three floors, where they can offer various music motifs. But after taking on South Broadway, tackling LoDo should be easy.