Champagne upon arrival, an at-your-service button and tableside mixology are some of the things guests at Villa Denver can expect when it opens this spring at 1416 Market Street. "People deserve to be spoiled when they go out," says Andy Mora, co-founder of House Group.
Along with Johnny Christmas and Brandon Jundt, he's launching the new concept in a space that has housed a number of clubs, including a reboot of Purple Martini, LUMI, Monarck, and Oak Tavern and its upstairs club, 24K Lounge.
With Villa Denver, though, House Group hopes to redefine downtown nightlife. The three partners have a combined two decades of experience working in the food, beverage and entertainment space, but this marks their first venture as owners. "We want to be creative. We want to think outside the box here. We want to take some risks," Christmas notes.
When Villa Denver opens this spring in the historic two-story building, it will offer a reimagined take on bottle service, which Mora says is "not as exciting as it needs to be. We want to spearhead changing that." In order to do so, Villa Denver will focus on crafting cocktails tableside using fresh-squeezed juices, exotic mixers and premium spirits. One thing you won't find on hand: soda guns.
The experience of opening Leña and his travels to study Latin American cuisine convinced Mora and Christmas that Prout was the ideal person to create the Villa Denver menu. The offerings will consist of "eclectic tapas," Mora says. "We will launch with a small menu and focus on shareability and fun presentation."
The ground floor of the space will boast a warm, house party-like lounge atmosphere, while upstairs will lean more into nightclub vibes complete with a louder sound system. The entertainment itself will range from live funk and jazz musicians, local music collectives and live DJs to fire breathers and magicians. "The entertainment will be a constantly evolving part of the experience," Christmas says.
"A strong component of our concept stems from a fundamental principle: We want everyone to feel like a valued guest at a house party instead of a patron at a bar," Mora adds. "It's important to us to change the perception of nightlife experiences people have had in the past."
The group is focused on making sure the concept is welcoming to staff, too. "We've all heard horror stories of past venues not getting compensation out in a timely manner," Mora says. "We will prioritize expeditious payment. We want to make sure everybody feels valued here." He adds that health benefits, an "innovative tip-pooling system" and empowering the team to offer creative input are also key priorities.
Villa Denver will be open late on weekends, but will also offer happy hour on weekdays. Eventually, the team wants to add brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, and possibly open as a workspace during the day.
"We're absolutely excited to do this," Mora concludes.