This New Venue Will Have Hot Concerts, Even If It Snows

Number Thirty Eight's outdoor patio and stage.EXPAND
Number Thirty Eight's outdoor patio and stage.
Jon Solomon
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Number Thirty Eight, a new, massive food, drink and live-music venue in RiNo, is about as Colorado-centric as it gets.

The name refers to how this great state was the 38th to join the union; there are 24 local brews on tap, and the space serves local spirits, as well. Founders Spencer Fronk and Andrew Palmquist say it boasts 18,000 square feet of outdoor space. That includes a huge patio, stage and volleyball courts, all of which take a cue from Colorado’s après-ski culture. And that means Number Thirty Eight will be hosting outdoor concerts even after the weather turns cold.

The venue, which opens Friday, October 9, with music from indie-pop singer-songwriter Zach Heckendorf, is set to host shows three nights a week, with each act playing two sets a night, at 5 and 8 p.m. The shows will include rising stars playing across genres: Indie-pop act South of France plays two nights this weekend, while indie-psych band Augustus, rapper extraordinaire Old Man Saxon, the road-trip rockers in Whitacre and gifted singer-songwriters Lucas Wolf and Covenhoven are on tap later this month.

“As Coloradans, when it gets cold, we put a layer on, and we go outside right when it gets cold," Fronk says. "We don't just go inside. We go and explore, and we go to the mountains to get out. And that's kind of the mentality that we're going to be bringing here. We want people to come outside. We'll have heaters. You put on a warm layer, you listen to music, and you drink a cold beverage.”

Number Thirty Eight's outdoor patio and stage.EXPAND
Number Thirty Eight's outdoor patio and stage.
Jon Solomon

There isn’t a cover for concerts, but reservations are required on OpenTable. As part of COVID-19 restrictions, there’s a 175-seat capacity, but the space could hold 1,000 people once coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

“One of the things we also really wanted to focus on in our outdoor space was the variety of seating,” Palmquist says. “A lot of outdoor patios are just a sea of picnic tables. We wanted to create a space [where] people can pick and choose what sort of seating style they want.”

The stage has state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems that Palmquist says are plug-and-play for most bands.

While Fronk and Palmquist have been planning to open Number Thirty Eight, which is housed in a former neon-sign factory, for two years, they’ve had to hold off the past six months to see what’s happening in the restaurant and bar industry during COVID-19. They designed the space with safety guidelines in place.

There’s a state-of-the-art check-in and payment system that uses wristbands and RFID trackers for a touchless experience for ordering food or drinks. There’s also a reservation-based, distanced seating plan, and a wall of floor-to-ceiling garage doors that let in fresh air year-round and open onto the patio.

Number Thirty Eight opens this weekend.EXPAND
Number Thirty Eight opens this weekend.
Jon Solomon

Both Colorado natives, Fronk and Palmquist realized there was a hole in the market.

“If you want to find really good live music, you have to sacrifice the food or beverage,” Fronk says. “You go to a place that has amazing food, and there's someone in the corner playing the guitar. Or you can go to a music venue, and you don't get that great of food. With Number 38, we change that, so you never have to choose again. You can always have great music, great food and great booze, all within one space, and brought to you in a unique, contactless and safe way.”

Chef Merlin Verrier, who was the culinary director at Lollapalooza in Chicago for a decade (and ran Street Feud at Avanti), heads up the kitchen, with a menu that includes flatbreads, tacos, bowls and bao buns.

Fronk and Palmquist also intend to open additional locations in other states, starting with Austin, Texas (Number Twenty Eight), Portland, Oregon (Number Thirty Three) and Columbus, Ohio (Number Seventeen) in 2021 and 2022.

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