The Tavern could be coming to a neighborhood near you. Tavern Hospitality Group, the Colorado-born and -bred company headed by Frank Schultz and his mother and stepfather, Terry and Al Papay, has enough projects on its plate to stay busy well into 2014. And that's the very earliest that construction could begin on the Tavern LoHi.
Schultz just bought an incredible Victorian structure at 15th and Boulder streets, but because a number of businesses in the storefronts along 15th have leases that run for another two years, the building won't be converted into a Tavern until sometime in late 2014. And in the meantime, he'll be putting a Tavern on South Pearl.
This summer, the THG offices will move from East 17th Street to the new/old building in LoHi, joining a lineup that already includes Jay's Patio Cafe and Sip N' Paint, right across the street from Forest Room 5 and Cellar Wine Bar. "We're not planning to kick anyone out," Schultz says. "We love the area."
Love it so much, in fact, that THG had originally bought a parcel of land at 33rd and Osage, across from Root Down, where Schultz had planned to build the Tavern LoHi - but when this historic building became available, he couldn't pass it up. "We feel this is ground zero," Schultz says.
After building Tavern Littleton, Tavern Tech Center and Tavern Lowry pretty much from scratch, Schultz says he's happy to be working with an existing building in a "character neighborhood." And there's plenty of work to do. Schultz plans to add a rooftop patio on top that will have a view overlooking the city - a view that won't ever be obstructed by new construction, as is happening at nearby Lola. With the property came a parking lot with fifty spaces - a real bonus in parking-shy LoHi, and Schultz plans to turn that into a lot with underground spaces, 160 in all. "We're going to be able to park all our customers," he promises.
But before he gets started on that project, or does anything with the property on Osage, THG is buying the building that had housed India's Pearl (and Lola before that) at 1475 South Pearl Street, which will become Tavern Platt Park. Schulz says he's working with the neighbors on the liquor-license transfer and hopes to start construction at the end of August.
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And then? A redo of Tavern Uptown, complete with a rooftop patio. THG already renovated the Tavern Downtown a few years ago; that's where the company got its start back in 1997, when Schultz opened the Soiled Dove in the historic warehouse. Today, THG owns the Soiled Dove Underground at Lowry, as well as the Cowboy Lounge next to the Tavern Downtown, and Tavern Wash Park, which comes close to the concept envisioned for Platt Park.
There are other possibilities in the works, and unexpected opportunities keep popping up. "You never know," says Schultz. One thing he does know: He won't be doing a Tavern in Prospect Park, as he'd once planned; parking proved too problematic. "Parking is so important," he says.
So is the fact that "character neighborhoods" count. "That's what's become the biggest driver for our company," Schultz concludes. And even though that company keeps growing, they have no plans to expand outside the state: Putting a Tavern in this city's character neighborhood will keep them busy enough.
A version of this story originally appeared in Cafe Bites, our weekly e-mail newsletter devoted to food and drink in Denver that arrives in in-boxes every Wednesday afternoon. Sign up for it here.