Cafe Society

Happy, in Boulder, closes -- but it's being swallowed whole by its alter ego, the Bitter Bar

Happy, Dave Query's Asian noodle joint in Boulder, shuttered yesterday, leaving in its wake the Bitter Bar, a craft cocktail lounge -- and the other half of Happy. And if that sounds confusing, Query, who spearheads Big Red F, the restaurant group that includes Happy/Bitter Bar, along with the West End Tavern, Zolo Grill, Centro, Lola and Jax in Boulder, Denver and Fort Collins, agrees.

"We confused a lot of our customers with this schizophrenic thing we were doing between Happy -- Asian noodle bowls -- and Bitter Bar, where we were serving speakeasy-style craft cocktails," admits Query. "We weren't clear in the early days of Happy what it was we were doing," he adds.

To clear up the situation, Happy is embracing its alter ego, and on October 15, the space, located at 835 Walnut Street, will reopen as one personality: The Bitter Bar, which, according to Bryce Clark, who handles Query's public relations, will dispense with the Asian concept altogether and instead focus on "winning and contemporary American craft cocktails and and delicious, straightforward American bar food and decadent, intelligent and well-made desserts."

The Bitter Bar's chief tender, Mark Stoddard, who won the Gold Medal winner at the 42 Below Cocktail World Cup in New Zealand, will continue to evolve the already impressive cocktail program, says Clark, who notes that when Bitter Bar reopens, the lounge will pimp an expanded wine and beer list as well as new coffee-drink pairings to complement the dessert program.

And the kitchen, says Clark, will be run by chef Sam Proia, who worked at Q's, also in Boulder, and dessert queen Jen Bush, who was the pastry chef at Jax for several years before opening (and subsequently closing) a Boulder sweets emporium called Blue Fine Pastries. The savory portion of the menu, says Clark, will include dishes like lamb meatballs stuffed with feta, a warm chicory salad with housemade pancetta and a poached egg, and brioche-fried Fruition Farms Camembert with Palisade peach jam.

You can follow the Bitter Bar's progress at

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson