The team that launched Habit Doughnut Dispensary and Carbon Beverage Cafe is at it again on Platte Street. Restaurant design visionary Lisa Ruskaup unveiled her new cafe and cocktail bar, Dead Battery Club, at 2420 17th Street last week. Returning to oversee the food menu is chef Scott Parker, who was the original executive chef for Carbon and Habit when the conjoined establishments debuted in August 2015 in the former home of Paris on the Platte.
Dead Battery Club's 1,000 square feet of intimate bar and lounge space are located just around the corner from the main Platte Street drag, on the ground floor of the new WeWork building. Ruskaup says she first became interested in the narrow space when Poke House opened next door last fall and didn't utilize the full retail area available. She points out that many modern cocktail bars have opened in vintage buildings, but she wanted to do just the opposite. "I was amused at the idea of putting a classic cocktail bar in a new, plain-Jane building," she explains.
The long bar, with its dark wood and brass accents opposite a row of plush banquettes upholstered in sky blue, already give a lived-in quality, making for a comfortable happy-hour stop for the building's many employees (not to mention the horde of other office workers now inhabiting Platte Street's new businesses). Additional atmosphere comes from a pair of hazy black-and-white prints depicting the viaducts that once shunted traffic over the neighborhood, leaving the watering holes and coffeehouses of the area to the barflies and eccentric downtown denizens before a massive revitalization effort altered the landscape in the late 1980s and early ’90s.
Cocktails are just part of the program at Dead Battery Club. The Cafe opens at 7 a.m. Monday through Friday with espresso drinks, drip coffee, fresh juices and other morning beverages, as well as housemade pastries (with vegan and gluten-free options), doughnuts from Habit and light breakfast dishes.
Most of the lunch and dinner options will appeal to grazers looking for variety; the "Great Buns," for example, are Parker's take on the wide world of stuffed savory pastries. At $5 each or three for $12, the buns are available filled with brisket and cream cheese (with a jalapeño honey drizzle); spinach, artichoke and chèvre; jamón and Manchego; or sausage, which turns out to be a dim-sum-style steamed bun surrounding a meatball made a little American with a dose of maple syrup. For a more lavish bite, there's also a $12 king crab bun.
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The bar takes its name from Ruskaup's goal of welcoming customers to come in and unplug or recharge; an art installation is currently being built on one wall utilizing defunct mobile devices (so bring yours in if you want it added to the piece). She also points out that another DBC, Denver Beer Co., is just around the corner.
The bar program is overseen by Karl Schwender, another Carbon veteran who says he has poured more than 500 different beers from Carbon's taps — so expect a few surprises at Dead Battery Club, too. Schwender's creative cocktails, many of which are variations on classics, are backed by a surprisingly strong list of wines by the glass and bottle, owing to Ruskaup's love of the grape.
The cafe has a European vibe, with glass cake stands sharing bar space with booze bottles, the hiss of the espresso machine firing up in the morning and commuters stopping in for a morning snack or afternoon drink on their way to and from work.
Dead Battery Club is open Monday through Wednesday from 7 a.m to 10 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 7 a.m. to midnight, Saturday from 10 a.m. to midnight, and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Call 303-477-2444 or visit the cafe's website for more information.