Talk about a blast from the past. I just did a walk through of the Rockbar, Jesse Morreale’s new place at the All-Inn Motel (3105 E. Colfax). It’s a far cry from Sketch, his swanky hangout in Cherry Creek, and it has very little in common with his other two local joints, Mezcal and La Rumba. Though it’s still a bit of a mess as they prepare to open for business this weekend, the potential is clearly there. The Rockbar is fully decked in its original 70s decor, pays homage to serious rock bands of the era (AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Van Halen, and few more modern notables), and even sports a vintage wooden parquet dance floor — surrounded by red, brown, and gold carpet — and solid-rock walls on the south side. Morreale and his project manager, Jerri Theil, plan to make this space into Denver’s most badass dive bar. Think PBR and Stroh’s beer in cans, 70s rock and metal blaring from the DJ booth (and the massive speakers) and lava lamps glowing behind the bar.
The real beauty of the Rockbar is that virtually everything, from the carpet to the ceiling, is original. It closed on December 31, 1979, and nothing has changed since. Once they removed the piles of junk that had been stored inside (Morreale bought the motel last year) all the funky old details emerged, giving it the sort of authenticity that you can’t replicate. Imagine, if you are child of the 70s and 80s like myself, your parents’ old basement rec room crossed with the Regal Beagle bar from Three’s Company, and you’ll have an idea of what awaits you inside. This place has mirrored walls, and even mirrored ceilings behind the bar. Silver foil wallpaper with orange and gold arches line the lounge area, heavy iron lanterns with rippled gold glass illuminate the dance floor, and orange hurricane lamps complete with white plastic netting brighten up the dark wood laminated cocktail tables. And get this – they even have a small video arcade with retro games like Donkey Kong and Ms. Pacman.
Want to see for yourself? Head down this weekend; they’ll officially open to the public this Friday. And starting next week, look for a weekly lineup of events and weekend DJs spinning hair bands, heavy metal, and arena rock.