Danny Newman slept well last night. But then, he'd had to get up very early to be at the 5:15 a.m. closing for the sale of the Mercury Cafe, a time chosen by Marilyn Megenity as the perfect moment to seal the deal that transferred ownership of her legendary venue to Newman and partner Austin Gayer.
The stars might have been aligned for the closing, but they didn't do much for subsequent computer snafus at the bank. "It was a whole day of delays," Newman recalls. "We got to hang out with Marilyn all day. It was awesome."
And tonight, his team will be with Megenity at the Mercury Cafe for a full staff meeting, the first time they'll be meeting everyone as a group. "We'll appreciate any kind of feedback from them," Newman says. "We're just going to continue running and operating the place as is while observing what's great and what's key, and then make little tweaks here and there."
And by little tweaks, he suggests accepting credit cards and adding point-of-sale information. "From a programming and atmosphere and vibe perspective, it's going to be the same," Newman promises. "It's such a special place, and everyone knows it."
Some of those people — "great friends who are huge in the music industry," he notes, many of whom got their start at the Merc — are already reaching out with booking suggestions, "but we're going to go slow on a lot of this," Newman continues, recounting how one friend sent a note recalling how his first date with a future spouse was at the Mercury, at an anti-Iraq War burlesque show on roller skates. "We want to be sure we're following the correct vibe, the correct energy."
The very vibe-y Megenity has promised that she'll be on hand to help as long as she's needed — but at seventy, she's ready to retire once the new owners have the hang of things. "Since we went under contract, we've been over there a ton. It's amazing that she's as involved physically as she is, always moving gear, opening and closing drapes, doing everything," says Newman.
And once Megenity feels the time is right, Newman and company will host an event in her honor at the Merc. Not surprisingly, she's already come up with different dates when the stars might be aligned for such festivities.
While Newman notes that he loves "a lot of the new stuff" in town, lately he's made a practice of saving the old, special stuff — not just the Merc, but My Brother's Bar, which he and his family, including mother Paula, who'd worked there for thirty years, bought in 2017 from the Karagas family and have kept largely the same. And just a week ago, Newman hosted a Save Casa Bonita event on the My Brother's Patio. Yes, he's involved in that campaign, too.
"There are actual layers of physical history in town," Newman points out. "You don't realize that something is missing until you go back and it's not there." And then it's hard to bring it back, which is why My Brother's Bar never closed after the sale, and why the Mercury continues to rise.
It's a good thing that Newman got some sleep last night, because one layer of history re-emerged today. After being closed since March 14, 2020, the interior of My Brother's Bar is now officially open.
While the fancy new patio in the parking lot that was retrofitted for the new Restaurant Recovery series will remain for now, Newman has some ideas for what to do with that space. "We once thought parking was so key," he says. "But now, maybe there's room for a new patio idea...."
The time could be right.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.