The storefront at 4483 Logan Street in Globeville has been a neighborhood watering hole throughout its hundred-year history, according to its newest tenant, Jeff Cornelius. He’s in the final stages of building out Globe Hall, a Texas-style barbecue and live-music venue that will open this fall, taking the place of the latest incarnation of the Sidewinder Tavern, which closed late last year.
Cornelius doesn’t plan to change the space much: He’s keeping the deep-red Formica bar top, the fading Coors sign above the entrance, and the church pews that line the walls in the attached hall that will serve as both dining room and dance floor. From the start, the bar side of the establishment served as a gathering place for workers at the Globe Smelting and Refining Company, which gave the neighborhood — and Cornelius’s venture — its name. “It’s always been kind of a rough place,” Cornelius says. In the early 1900s, the bar was called the 16-to-1 Exchange and was owned by union politico Max Malich. The attached hall was originally the Croatian and Slovenian Saint Jacob’s Lodge Hall, which served as the headquarters for a fraternal benefits society — a kind of health plan where membership dues went toward medical and other expenses for members and their families.
Cornelius explains all of this to create context around the many layers of history that have accumulated at this address. At one time, the two spaces were separated by a breezeway, which was roofed over many decades ago and now forms a long, narrow section that houses four bathrooms. The wood floors in the hall and on the stage at the back are all original; he’ll be keeping those along with other architectural flourishes that have accreted over the years. “I’ve always wanted to run a dive bar,” he says, so those familiar with the old joint won’t see much change.
Cornelius gets his love of both music and barbecue from his years in Texas. Although his father was in the oil business and moved frequently for his job when Cornelius was young (he was actually born in Malaysia and lived in Egypt, Abu Dhabi and several other foreign locations), the family settled in Houston in time for him to start fifth grade. He remembers early barbecue encounters at Luther’s, and in high school became a regular at Goode Company on Houston’s west side, a place he now considers a stepping stone to great Texas barbecue.
He moved to Austin to attend college at the University of Texas, where he fell in love with both the live-music scene and the central-Texas style of butcher-counter smokehouses. “I was able to get ahold of a fake ID, and I was on Sixth Street even as a freshman,” Cornelius says of Austin’s famed music district. “In Austin, I was also introduced to the Salt Lick.” At the time, that storied rural barbecue joint didn’t have a liquor license, so customers — Cornelius and his friends included — would bring coolers of beer and hang out all day.
But while he loved barbecue, the live music he heard in Austin’s bars influenced him more. After college, he moved to Colorado in 1995 and pursued a career in promotions and public relations, at one point working for Feld Entertainment (owners of Ringling Brothers) and Radio City Music Hall (promoting the Rockettes). More recently, he and his wife, Aubrey, have been running Sprocket Communications — but he’ll be stepping away from those duties to concentrate all of his efforts on Globe Hall.
The music side of things will include reggae, bluegrass, Americana, alt country, indie rock, blues — even tejano, a big part of the Texas music scene that fits well with barbecue and with the surrounding north Denver neighborhood, Cornelius points out. On the food side, he’s focusing on traditional Texas barbecue in the style of top Austin practitioners like Franklin’s, La Barbecue, John Mueller and Micklethwait. “That’s my ultimate goal: If we were down in Texas, to be in the top twenty,” Cornelius says.
To help achieve that goal, he’s been perfecting his recipes and techniques at home for the better part of a decade; he just purchased an Oyler rotisserie smoker for Globe Hall that can handle up to 1,800 pounds of meat at once. In the tradition of Hill Country pit men, he’s given the smoker a name: Betty — after the 1977 Ram Jam song, “Black Betty.” Betty was built in Mesquite, Texas, in 1998, and Cornelius bought it from a man in Salt Lake City who had attempted to open a chain of several Sonny Bryan’s in Utah, completely refurbishing the unit but never using it commercially.
Fortunately for Cornelius, J & R Manufacturing, the makers of Oyler barbecue pits, offers free training to anyone who purchases one of their smokers, even used units, since the smokers are built to last for decades. So last week, Cornelius flew to Texas for training in mesquite cooking, and also toured some favorite barbecue joints to reset his tastebuds in preparation for cranking up Betty at Globe Hall; stops included a few of the above-mentioned Austin eateries as well as Opie’s in Spicewood (where his parents now live), Cooper’s in Llano, and the Pecan Lodge in Dallas.
“I don’t feel like the kind of barbecue that I like is being represented [in Denver] — and that’s Texas style,” he says. “Wayne’s does a really good job,” he adds, but he points out that Wayne’s Smoke Shack is in the northern suburbs and is mostly a lunch spot, while Globe Hall will only be open for dinner, so he doesn’t feel like the two businesses will be competing.
Brisket will be a focus of Globe Hall’s menu, of course, but the lineup will also feature pulled pork, ribs, chicken and sausage. Sides will include a vinegar-based slaw, potato salad and beans that Cornelius is not afraid to admit will be canned Ranch Style Texas Beans — a flavor that recalls his childhood — kicked up with a few fresh ingredients. And for dessert he’ll offer banoffee pie, a banana-and-toffee confection with a graham-cracker crust and layers of dark chocolate and dulce de leche.
Although Globe Hall will retain its dive-bar ambience, Cornelius hopes it also captures the energy of some of his favorite Denver restaurants. “What I’m trying to replicate is the feeling you get when you eat at places like Root Down or Work & Class — and that was ubiquitous in Texas, especially in barbecue places,” he explains. “It’s the democratizing of food — music and food and getting to know your neighbors.”
Globe Hall is big enough to hold that energy level, with seating for nearly a hundred guests inside and another forty on the back patio, as well as a 200-person capacity for shows. The meat counter will be adjacent to the bar; customers will order there and then head to the music hall, where cafeteria-style community tables await. Or they’ll be able to grab a stool at the bar, where Cornelius plans to keep things simple.
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“There will be no mixologists,” he says, “and there will always be $2 draft beer — something like Tecate or Lone Star. But we’re going to go deep on our selection of bourbon and tequila.” Other beverages will include basic mules, margaritas and mixed drinks.
While he’ll oversee the barbecue, Cornelius is looking to hire a lead cook/pit master with a love of meat-heavy menus, “someone with consistency and a passion for executing to perfection day in and day out,” he notes. “And that’s hard to find.”
The meat is his main focus right now — slow-roasting over post oak for eighteen to twenty hours with simple seasonings and the alchemical mingling of smoke and fat. Replicating his backyard recipes on a big rig will be Cornelius’s main challenge as he sets out to satisfy Denver barbecue fans salivating for new options.