Josh Schmitz wants to revive downtown Denver’s nightlife.
The co-owner of Denver restaurant group Handsome Boys Hospitality has come up with a permanent concept to open in a 2,000 square foot space in Larimer Square where he previously operated pop-up vacation bars.
Schmitz plans to open Disco Pig, a tiki-themed dance club, next Friday at 1403 Larimer St.
“We think there’s a gap in the market right now for fun nightlife,” Schmitz said. “When people think of downtown nightlife, they think of big nightclubs like Temple, but there aren’t a ton of great places to hang out and dance right now with places like Nativ and Sip that close.”
Handsome Boys Hospitality rented the former Crimson Room space in September.
In October, the restaurant group operated Spirits, a Halloween-themed pop-up bar. In December, the space hosted the Christmas-themed Naughty List.
Schmitz said he plans to find another location for the holiday-themed pop-up bars next year.
Handsome Boys is already present in Larimer Square. Next door at 1411 Larimer St., the restaurant cluster has Hidden Gems, a Wizard of Oz-themed ice cream shop, and the Alice in Wonderland-themed Drunken Bakery.
“With the way downtown has turned with Market Street and the violence, I stopped coming here,” Schmitz said. “The city center is losing market share to places like RiNo and the Highlands. But when the pandemic hit, we had the opportunity to open in Larimer Square, and we were inspired to turn around and make it a fun place to visit.
Larimer Square is owned by Charlotte-based Asana Partners, which paid $92 million for it in late 2020. Schmitz said the company is “bringing the energy back” to the block.
“We see a ton of tourists and locals in Larimer Square, but it’s become a unique destination,” he said. “People come here just to eat and go, and even though it’s one of the most recommended places to visit, is it really fun? There isn’t a ton of stamina on this block. So we want to give people a place to go before and after dinner in Larimer Square.
Disco Pig’s quirky interior will be covered in disco balls, have mirrored walls, and welcome visitors with a three-foot-tall bronze pig statue. The bar will offer six signature cocktails, including its namesake Hawaiian tiki drink which will be served in a mug with a disco pig on it.
Schmitz has teamed up with Lance Dunlap, the talent buyer for Global Dance, a Denver-based electronic music event company that hosts Colorado’s annual Global Dance Festival, to open Disco Pig and manage the club’s music program. , which will feature rotating DJs.
“There was just an article that came out in the Denver Post with a headline that said, ‘Downtown Is Dead,’ and I couldn’t disagree with that more,” Schmitz said. “I think that title itself is why young creatives and people with a different outlook are being offered the doorway to do some cool stuff here that we’ve never had before.”
In addition to Disco Pig, Schmitz has leased the former Milk & Honey Bar and Kitchen space across the street at 1414 Larimer St. and is planning a new concept there as well.
Schmitz, 35, launched Handsome Boys Hospitality with business partners Matt Haberman and Brandon Jundt during the pandemic. He has since grown from five to 70 employees and said that number will likely double over the next year. The Restoration Group’s offices are also in Larimer Square.
Handsome Boys Hospitality opened Telephone Pub, a Harry Potter-inspired bar, in December in Belmar, Lakewood. The company also plans to open RiNo Country Club, a putt-putt bar with a biergarten, at 3763 Wynkoop St. in April, and Mexican bar Lucha (formerly known as Con Safos) at 1416 Market St. in LoDo shortly thereafter.
“I wish we had been open all these months, but people just don’t work as fast as we do,” Schmitz said. “Our business operates at the speed of a speedboat rather than a cruise ship. We have no staffing issues, and we have resumes and applications pouring in.
Subscribe to our new food newsletter, Stuffed, to get Denver food and drink news delivered straight to your inbox.