The District Is Reopening January 28 as 1908: An Uptown Eatery | Westword
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The District Is Reopening January 28 as 1908 An Uptown Eatery

"We want a restaurant with a bar."
Big changes are coming to this Uptown mainstay.
Big changes are coming to this Uptown mainstay. Danielle Lirette
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“There’s a difference between a bar with food and a restaurant with a bar,” says Rick Good, co-owner of The District, a bar with a restaurant at 1320 East 17th Avenue that closed temporarily on January 23.

When it reopens on Saturday, January 28, it will have a new name, 1908 An Uptown Eatery, as well as new menu items, an updated interior and the vibe of "a restaurant with a bar,” Good affirms.

Open since 2014, the District had been known for its lengthy draft list and generous happy hour specials. When former Westword restaurant critic Gretchen Kurtz reviewed the eatery in 2014, a companion told her that “I didn't know it was such a bar.”

Good explains that when he and the restaurant’s co-owners, Sung Song and Todd Dorman, purchased the District last March, they intended to “run it the way it was," but several alcohol-fueled circumstances created business liability and safety concerns. He adds that pivoting away from a bar-like atmosphere was “at the request of the staff.”

“We didn’t like the way everything was going, so we decided to change,” he explains. “The only way to really get out of that [reputation] is to rebrand.” Although 1908 will continue to serve alcohol, it aims to position itself around food quality and community.

“The first thing we did was throw away all the microwaves,” says Good. “We believe in everything from scratch.” He lists several housemade items on the new menu, like hand-cut fries and savory sauces, adding that Maria, one of the restaurant’s chefs, “is a phenomenal cook [who] makes a great green chile.”

Guests can enjoy that green chile in the new chicken taquitos featuring chipotle Red Bird chicken. “[It’s] the best chicken on the market,” says Good. He goes on to describe a few other signature dishes, like the salmon tostadas with watermelon radish, and the Cannon Balls, which are “semi-mashed potatoes, four types of cheese, and green onions. We roll them into balls and fry them up, and they’re freaking amazing.” Good adds that the Cannon Balls recipe was originally introduced at 1908’s sister restaurant, Border Burger Bar in Manitou Springs, though the version being served in Denver does not include bacon like the original because “there are so many more vegetarians.”

Several vegetarian and vegan appetizers are available on the new menu, as well, including avocado egg rolls and fried pickles, along with mains like the Uptown Bowl with egg whites and sautéed mushrooms. A dedicated children’s menu is another new addition.
Don’t worry — 1908 An Uptown Eatery isn’t booting the District's beloved Bloody Mary recipe.
District Bistro & Bar
When the District first opened its doors, it was celebrated for its late-night kitchen, which served food until nearly 2 a.m. Operating hours are another major pivot for 1908 An Uptown Eatery: It will now be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

“After that, we’re an event center,” Good notes. Evenings will be reserved for both private and public events. He envisions corporate meetings and wedding rehearsal dinners, as well as neighborhood movie screenings, open-mic nights, and whiskey- and wine-paired meals.

“I can’t tell you how many clubs I’ve been in, and I can promise you, I don’t remember much of them unless something really weird happened,” Good jokes. “For a lot of people, the culture has shifted: It’s not ‘Get wasted,’ but ‘Enjoy your drinks.’ People are looking for experiences. You remember the events.”

These events, as well as daily food service, will be hosted in 1908's renovated building, which, as indicated in the name, was built in 1908. “We’re really big [on] historical stuff,” says Good, adding that the team's aim is to honor the structure’s legacy.

The space was once a jewelry store, and “we still have the vault door, so we’re moving that to the front of the building," Good notes. "We’re going to paint a mural of Colorado back in 1908. We’re going to put up two video screens and [project] pictures of Colorado circa 1908." He's also planning to install antique light fixtures and add spacious butcher block tables that will help increase capacity by roughly twenty people.

The renovations aren’t contained to the restaurant’s interior. Plans for a rooftop patio were already approved by the city under previous owner Kerry Condon. Good says that project will come later, but new patio furniture will be added soon.

While the neighborhood — and tourists, which currently make up “60 to 70 percent of business" according to Good — have many new aspects to look forward to, one old favorite will stick around: the Bloody Mary. The rebranded eatery will continue to use the same recipe, but rather than being served in a boot-shaped glass, it will offer a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar along with mimosas and Screwdrivers.

“We just want to be a nice restaurant with great food, great service, great atmosphere and quality drinks," Good concludes. "We believe in quality in everything that we do.”

1908 An Uptown eatery is located at 1320 East 17th Avenue. Because it's booked through most of this weekend, it's advertising an opening day of January 30. Find out more here.
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