Although Monkey Barrel, a bar and music venue that opened two years ago at 1611 Platte Street, will relocate in early 2016 to 4401 Tejon Street, the move comes with some definite advantages: Not only will the location be larger and feature a kitchen, but that kitchen will also serve Carbone’s famous sandwiches.
Monkey Barrel proprietor Jimmy Nigg, who also owns Rockabillies in Arvada, has to relocate the venue because its Platte Street building is being redeveloped. For Monkey Barrel's new location, Nigg will be teaming up with Tony Lonardo, son of Rosa and Nick Lonardo, who ran Carbone’s Italian Sausage Deli for nearly four decades until it closed four years ago. “Through a mutual friend, I found out that Tony was possibly interested in getting back into the business,” Nigg says. “He didn’t want to reopen the deli. He just wanted to do the sandwiches and just do the restaurant side.”
So when the new Monkey Barrel opens, Nigg says Lonardo will be making some of the sandwiches that Carbone’s offered as takeout. “He knows his customers better than anybody, so what we’re going to do is start off with his most popular sandwiches – his bestsellers over the years,” Nigg says. “It’s going to be a sit-down restaurant, so you’ll be able to grab a beer or cocktail and a sandwich.”
Nigg says that in addition to the sandwiches, they’ll mix up it on the weekends with brunch and dinner. “[Tony] knows good Italian food, and he’s really passionate about cooking up some authentic Italian food,” Nigg says. “The sandwiches are going to be huge, and we already know those are going to be a hit — but he really wants to do some family Italian-style dinners and calzones, mini-pizzas and stuff like that.”
The space at 4401 Tejon Street, which was most recently Sunnyside Natural Market, is roughly the same size as the current Monkey Barrel with about 1,500 square feet, but Nigg plans to build an addition to give diners more space to eat. There are also plans for a huge patio. “The bad news is that we’re leaving,” Nigg says, “but the good news is that all the fans of Monkey Barrel are going be able to go into a bigger space with awesome food and more seating.”
Since opening the Monkey Barrel in 2013, Nigg says he’s invested quite a bit of money in creating the decor and playing up a Generation X theme. “The Gen X theme, I think, is what really won people over when we plugged in the Nintendo 64s and people could play Mario Kart and everything else,” Nigg says.
While there are three booths set up with Mario Kart at the current Monkey Barrel, there will be more games at the new location. Nigg will also be moving the memorabilia, including a guitar signed by Kurt Cobain, three microphones and an album signed by the Beastie Boys, and a guitar signed by the original members of Sublime. “The idea is you’re playing old-school video games, you’re listening to old ‘90s nostalgic music,” Nigg says. “Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sublime, stuff like that – and it kind of brings you back to a different time in your life forever.”
Nigg also plans to have to live music at the next location. "This new space will give us an opportunity to build out a bigger area for live music and, even more so, put an area outside that will be set up for more summertime outdoor events," he says. Watch for the new Monkey Barrel to roll out as early as next spring. The current Monkey Barrel will remain open in the meantime.
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