During his five-year stint as talent buyer at the Meadowlark, it was clear that Jonathan Bitz had a deep passion for the local scene, and as such, he helped cultivate a community of singer-songwriters, most notably with acts like Churchill and the Lumineers. Over the last three years or so, Bitz began looking a place of his own, and he finally found it. Later this fall (October or November, tentatively), he's planning to open Syntax: Physic Opera, a music venue, eatery and art bar, in the former home of the Bar (and the Atrium before that) at 554 South Broadway.
See also: The Bar on South Broadway has closed
Bitz says that he's always been in love with supper club idea, and he plans to host jazz acts early in evening while having different programming later at night, whether it be open stages, jazz jams or storytelling.
"With the concept I really want it to be a blue-collar creative kind of place," Bitz reveals. "I want the blue-collar musicians, and I want the blue-collar artists -- the folks that are struggling over their work and producing work. I want to be around those people."
Since leaving the Meadowlark a year and a half ago, Bitz, who is also founder and editor of Syntax magazine, has been working on a book about the first seven days of Denver's existence and the true stories written in a fictional form.
"I'm really passionate about that time period, so that's what we're kind of riffing off of at the base entirely," Bitz explains. "Physic Opera is sort of a Latin phrase that the insiders would call a medicine show. The idea is that is a medicine show -- that everything is medicine, from the food to the drinks to the art to the music to the conversation, hopefully."
Bitz says menu items, which will be clean, simple and fresh, are kind playing off of what was being eaten in Denver during the mid-19th Century, stuff like trout and peaches and some Native American fare such as bison. The small plates, which he says will be full on flavor, not starches, are meant to be shared with friends. "An experience is what I want folks to have," he says, "a full head and heart, not a bloated gut."
Over the next three months, Bitz plans to update everything in the space, including building a new bar and renovating the stage and the bathrooms. But while he's revamping the place, Bitz says he still wants to keep some of the grit and character of what it once was.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.