As the owner of Suite Two Hundred (1427 Larimer Street), 5 Degrees (1475 Lawrence Street) and Monarck and 24K, both at 1416 Market Street, Lotus Concepts' Francois Safieddine has a good feel for the trends in that part of town.
"In Larimer Square, for example, the crowd is extremely upscale and they're looking for an upscale venue," he explains. "On Market, it's a little more casual. So as a businessman, you really have to make decisions not based on ego. You want to make decisions based on business and what makes sense and what could work. It's evident down there that what will work is a casual type of venue."
And so Safieddine's new, casual type of venue, Oak Tavern, will open Thursday, July 16, in the former Monarck space. After five years, that upscale club had run its course, Safieddine says, and in determining what to put there next, he knew he didn't want to compete with Suite Two Hundred, and he also wanted to take the current economic situation into account. "A lot of people want to have a good time," he notes. "They still want to go out, but they don't want to spend a lot of money. So we felt with Oak Tavern, we're reaching out to those kind of people."
He also thinks that the Oak Tavern concept might last longer than the average four-year lifespan for a club and could help diversify Lotus Concepts' collection of venues. "We feel like long-term we really want to be able to remodel our nightclubs, but not our taverns and restaurants," he explains. "And that's why, as a company, we're trying to not have too many clubs in our portfolio so we don't have to be redoing those places. Our plan with Oak Tavern is to be the type of place that would be there for fifteen years — unlike the club scene, where you have to redo it every three or four years."
Although Oak Tavern will have more of a casual, neighborhood-tavern vibe so that people can go there in T-shirts and jeans and not have to wait in line, Lotus Concepts has still closely controlled its development. "It's not going to be a casual place where you just put in a bar, a bunch of TVs and call it Oak Bar," Safiedinne says. "It's going to be a very nice place. We took time to design it well and make sure the concept made sense in terms of the design of the product, music and the service, and the way the whole feel of the space is going to make sense compared to the concept. It's going to be the type of venue where you go if you want to have a good time, hang out in a really nice place where you don't want the music to be loud, and you don't want to be listening to dance music and be around a lot of people who are being rowdy — not that it's bad, but it's not a club feel."
There won't be bottle service at Oak Tavern, but Safieddine did fly in mixologist Jason Gerard from Phoenix to come up with sixteen signature cocktails and twenty-four specialty shots, including the White Gummy Bear, made of Skyy pineapple vodka, triple sec, sweet and sour and Sprite.
From 6 to 10 p.m. on July 16, Safieddine and Jeremy Bloom's Wish of a Lifetime Foundation will host an invite-only grand-opening celebration; after 10, Oak Tavern will kick off F.A.N. (Female Appreciation Night), which will run every Thursday, when ladies can indulge in pre-selected complimentary specialty drinks and giveaways. At 4 p.m. on Friday, July 17, the general public will get a chance to check out Oak Tavern when it teams up with Mile High Sports Magazine for an event hosted by Jim Armstrong, Denver Post sports columnist, and featuring Les Shapiro, former sports anchor for CBS 4; Eric Goodman, sports anchor for FOX 31; Joel Klatt, former University of Colorado and Detroit Lions quarterback; Marcelo Balboa, former USA soccer player; and Woody Paige, Denver Post columnist and ESPN host. There will be an open bar will specialty drinks and complimentary appetizers from 5 to 6 p.m. and from 9 to 10 p.m. And on Sunday, July 19, Oak Tavern will introduce its service-industry night, which offers chances to win a party cruise to Port Paradise and also to see Dave Matthews at the private island.
Club scout: The space at 2301 Blake Street that started its club life as the Garage in the '80s and was going to be Club 303's VIP room just opened as The Bar; it will be hosting an open mike on Tuesdays, karaoke on Wednesdays, DJs spinning Top 40 on Thursdays and Sundays, '80s and '90s rock on Fridays, and old-school hip-hop on Saturdays. And Bender's Tavern (314 East 13th Avenue) just launched Gut Check Thursdays with DJs Kursed and Creeper, who will be spinning dark wave, rockabilly, punk, ska and more. They'll also show classic cult and horror flicks, offer $1 drinks for ladies from 9 to 11 p.m. , and sell guys (and anyone else) $1 PBRs and $3 wells from midnight to close.