Cafe Society

Uptown Brothers Brewing Company to join the city's band of Brothers

The city's band of Brothers is about to get larger. As Jon Solomon reports in this week's Bar Back column, the former Red Room at 320 East Colfax Avenue will soon be home to Uptown Brothers Brewing Company, which is slated to open May 24.

But unlike My Brother's Bar, which Jim and Angelo Karagas opened more than forty years ago at 2376 15th Street, and Brothers BBQ, a homegrown chain that Chris and Nick O'Sullivan started in 1998, and even Brothers Bar & Grill, the Wisconsin-based chain that Mark and Eric Fortney founded in 1990 that will soon have a link at 1920 Market Street, there are no brothers officially involved in the Uptown Brothers operation.

Just experienced businessmen excited to bring a new venture to this part of Colfax.

According to Danny Huffstetler, one of the partners in Uptown Brothers, the inspiration for the name came from Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski. "We're all brothers," he says. And while the owners looked at a couple of different locations before they settled on the Red Room space, they thought of the name "three years ago, when we started trying to do this."

Jim Karagas is more than willing to welcome Uptown Brothers into the band of brothers. he also had no problem with the Brothers BBQ name, because the concept is so different from what he does.

But Brothers Bar & Grill comes too close for comfort -- literally, since its LoDo location is just a mile away from the watering hole that regulars frequently refer to simply as "Brothers" -- and his lawyer sent a letter to the Fortneys more than two months ago asking them to discontinue use of the word "Brothers" at the Denver restaurant or face possible legal action. But the Fortneys headed to court first. On May 3, their company filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Denver, asking the judge to rule that they could use the Brothers Bar & Grill name here in Denver without infringing on Karagas's rights.

Uptown Brothers isn't looking at any kind of legal obstacle to its plans (although this Uptown Brothers Brewing Company might have something to say about that). But it still faces a few hurdles: It did a major renovation of the space, adding 19 47-inch TVs and outfitting the kitchen to handle an ambitious menu. And the second-floor brewery might not be fully operational until October, since the owners can't apply for a brewing license until the equipment it's ordered from Caifornia comes in.

The plan is to brew five to eight beers at a time, and until then, Huffstetler says, the bar will have plenty of other beers on tap. "Unlike a lot of brewpubs," he explains, "we're not going to force peope to drink our beer only. We're going to have a constant selection of some good stuff here."

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.
Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun