There have been some discordant notes over at Wild Ivories, the dueling piano bar that opened in June at 1400 Market Street, in the former home of Buca di Beppo. On the day the club opened, Tim Kirkland, one of the partners in the venture, says he got an anonymous "Here's who you're doing business with" e-mail that outlined a check-fraud case involving Caz Bzdek, who'd reportedly done four years in prison for the crime.
Bzdek was the founder of Wild Ivories, the man who'd brought four other partners into the deal. But only Kirkland and another guy actually put up money, Kirkland says. "What was happening was that Caz as a managing partner was running up these bills -- construction, marketing, advertising, vendor bills -- but there was no capital contribution....The club opened in severe debt, which we didn't know about. We were under the impression from Caz that everything was being paid, and it wasn't."
The partners voted Bzdek out of the deal in July, Kirkland says; they also filed reports with the Denver Police Department's fraud unit.
For his part, Bzdek claims he chose to step down as managing member of the partnership. "They're saying there was embezzlement and that's why there's no money," he says. "I mean, there's just no truth to those allegations. No one has taken the money and run. No one has embezzled."
The other partners have stepped up to keep the place going, with dueling piano shows Tuesday through Friday and DJs spinning in the downstairs Juke on Friday and Saturday, when the place is "really thumping," Kirkland says.
"Right now, my focus is to make this a successful entertainment venue and let the police and the district attorney sort out the rest," he concludes. "At the end of the day, it's a great concept...it's going to be a successful club. It's unfortunate we had to start out by trying to fight our way for air."
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.