By Monday, September 12, when the Denver Broncos host the loathsome Oakland Raiders at the former Invesco Field at Mile High, Rockbar, the deliberately divey dance club and watering hole (and Susan Sarandon's favorite hangout during the 2008 Democratic National Convention) at 3015 East Colfax Avenue, will have completed a major transformation, just like Gregor Samsa, Kafka's character in "The Metamorphosis" -- except that this makeover won't include giant insects. Instead, Jesse Morreale, who owns Rockbar (he operates El Diablo, Sketch and La Rumba, too), is uncaging a new burger-and-sports retreat within the confines of the space, which happens to have a 4,000-square-foot, two-tiered kitchen that hasn't been utilized in eons.
Brian Laird, the former executive chef of Barolo Grill (and, briefly, Russo's Kitchen + Tavern), has jumped on the burger bandwagon with Morreale, and he's going to make full use of all that square footage to pimp burgers, fries in all guises, salads, sandwiches, and plates of deviled eggs and potato skins. "When Brian and I sat down to talk about all of this, we went through all the American food groups -- pizza, tacos and burgers -- and we talked extensively about what was missing on East Colfax," says Morreale. Pizza and tacos had reached their saturation point, they concluded, but burgers -- not trendy burgers, but burgers worthy of a bona fide bar setting -- were noticeably absent.
"Five years ago, we didn't have great burgers in Denver, and while we're now well-versified in burgers -- we even have burger battles -- there aren't a lot of good burger joints in this neighborhood. I can guarantee you that we're going to have the greatest, most consistent burger in Denver -- a burger whose quality will be better than everyone else's," promises Laird, adding that he'll also do nightly specials, including Rockbar buckets of fried chicken.
The second part of Rockbar's new addition -- the sports aspect -- is all about communing with like-minded, bad-ass football fans. "There are no real sports bars on Colfax," insists Morreale, "no real place to watch sports with friends that you just want to hang out with, and we're going to be that place." In fact, he says, the joint is going to "bleed orange and blue" in honor of the Denver Broncos. "We'll always have other games on, but this is going to be the coolest place in the city to watch a Broncos game and get the best burger in town."
But Rockbar, Morreale promises, will continue all its rock-and-roll traditions, too, pouring shots of Mad Dog 20/20 and unloading cheap cans of PBR. "We're not fucking with the integrity of Rockbar," he says. "We're just making it better."