Joining the brewery will be Tex-Mex restaurant El Tejano at 1949 Market Street, in the space that was previously Tavern Downtown, and 80s-inspired rock-and-roll bar Loaded at 1937 Market Street, where Cook Street School used to be (Cook Street has moved to 43 West Ninth Avenue).
Three companies with California ties are behind the trio of new additions. Fillmore Capital Partners bought the properties from Denver's Frank Schultz, owner of the Tavern Hospitality Group, in February 2019. Partners in the concepts are Knitting Factory Entertainment — a powerhouse in the music and entertainment industry, with venues nationwide — and L.A.-based restaurant group Buckhead.
Loaded and El Tejano carry echoes of earlier L.A. venues. While there is still an El Tejano in North Hollywood, the original Loaded closed in 2016. Knitting Factory CEO Morgan Margolis wanted to resurrect the Loaded concept in Denver "in a much bigger way," says Xanthus Be Dell, food and beverage director for all three concepts. "They want to make a big splash.”
Loaded is an ode to Sunset Strip party bars like Whiskey a Go Go and the Viper Room as they were in the ’80s. The bar will feature music theme nights, vinyl records, karaoke with a live band and drink specials. Be Dell is particularly excited about the riffs on ’80s-themed cocktails such as Sex on the Beach and Harvey Wallbangers, though he says they’ll offer modern twists, including fresh ingredients and less syrup. “Of course, if you want to have a Jack and Coke, we're ready to serve it,” he notes. “Whatever the rocker wants.”
El Tejano will also boast six-foot television screens and an occasional projection screen that will play Denver pro sports and college games. And the bar might set up specials for when Denver wins, or “even if they lose. Maybe that’s when we need a special most of all,” Be Dell says.
Organizers hope that during the day El Tejano will welcome families and sports lovers alike. At night, they’ll turn up the music and turn the restaurant into more of a club atmosphere.
Next door, Smash Face Brewing is an oasis for dogs and their humans. The owner, Joe Barker, chose the name based on his love of smashed-face dogs such as Phil, the Boston terrier that serves as the brewery's mascot. The venue offers a full roster of beer including house beers with names such as Pinkingese Pilsner and Shitzu Session. A portion of the proceeds from house beers will go to animal-related charities. Customers' dogs are welcome on the synthetic turf lawn and can soon expect gourmet treat offerings from the deli case inside.
Smash Face also offers wine and cocktails and a whole menu of elevated bar food such as smash-style burgers, chicken sandwiches, pizza, taterkegs — oversized tater tots wrapped in bacon — and Dog E.-style sausages, which feature Denver-based Continental Sausage and a variety of toppings.
Be Dell credits executive chef Ian Scortino with the decision to use Continental Sausage. Scortino is one of a number of Denver hires along with Justin Ivie, the bar manager, and Zack Weiss, Smash Face Brewery manager (also of Gnarly Mountain Cookies). Be Dell says the Denver team has been integral in shaping the venue concepts and connecting bar themes with local flair. But while they don’t want to stray too far from Denver's character, they’re also unafraid of creating something new. They’ve kept the buildings the same on the outside but have added new colors within.
“LoDo is changing. It could be a very vibrant block right across from Coors Field,” Be Dell says. “We’re bringing some new life.”
Smash Face Brewing is located at 1941 Market Street and is open from 3 to 11 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit smashfacebrewing.com.