While Jonathan Bitz originally planned to have Syntax Physic Opera up and running by last November, construction delays and having to obtain new permits have extended the timeline. He's now hoping that his music venue, eatery and art bar open by the end of April.
After a five-year stint as a talent buyer at the Meadowlark, Bitz started what would become a three-year hunt for his own place. Last August, he took over the building at 554 South Broadway that most recently housed the Bar (and the Atrium before that) and began transforming the space into Syntax Physic Opera.
"Physic Opera is sort of a Latin phrase that the insiders would call a medicine show," he says. "The idea is that it is a medicine show -- that everything is medicine, from the food to the drinks to the art to the music to the conversation, hopefully."
While Bitz thought construction would have been completed in November, physical renovations on the building have stalled over the last three months as he works through permitting issues. "That's been hard, but it's a huge blessing in that we'd refined everything," Bitz says. "We've really been able to refine the food menus. And the cocktail menus are hitting on something...drinks that had medicinal elements in them. It's a play on the old nostrums that they had at the medicine shows."
"I wouldn't have been comfortable doing that six months ago, just because I thought it was maybe hokey. I didn't have the knowledge base for it. [But] my brother is a naturopathic doctor and he does. So he's really walked me though this process. He's created all of our remedies that go in the drinks here. "
"I feel a lot more fluent and knowledgeable in that to be able to sell it as something that isn't hokey. It's going to be playful. It's not going to be serious or hippie-dippie or new age-y, because it could go that way. But it's going to be something that's going to be a very interesting fresh element. Nobody else is doing this, approaching cocktails in this way. So that's exciting."
As far as music goes, Bitz says he might do a lot more jazz programming than he initially thought he would do, and he plans to have an open jazz jam on Mondays, and open mike night on Tuesdays, and a comedy night hosted by Greg Baumhauer on Wednesdays.
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