In a 2020 article for a series about "cities where live music has exploded," Rolling Stone turned the spotlight on Denver, proclaiming that our city is "in the midst of a huge live-music boom." Some would argue that the scene has been booming for years — and not only does Denver have its share of venues dedicated to live music, but a number of restaurants and bars around town offer live music, as well.
Haleigh Watts grew up riding horses in Jefferson County and visiting the National Western Stock Show every year. So when she got a job working near the National Western Complex as Number Thirty Eight's national marketing director when the venue opened in October 2020, she had the perfect idea."I knew the Stock Show was right around the corner, and although we're not officially affiliated with the Stock Show, January is a time when country music and Western vibes kind of take over the city," Watts says. "I thought, 'How can Number Thirty Eight get involved?' We were still at the height of COVID going into 2021, and so a lot of the normal January staples weren't happening. I said, 'Okay, well, we have this great outdoor space, great indoor space. Why don't we throw our own country concert series?' Our two owners are also Denver natives, and all the big country music fans were immediately on board."
We had the good fortune of connecting with Haleigh Watts and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Haleigh, do you have any habits that you feel contribute to your success?
This is a fun question because it’s changed so much over time. I feel more successful now than ever in my career before and it’s really only happened within the last 1-2 years.
"It was more a defense mechanism," says Adam Branz of how he ended up starting Split Lip, which is set to move into Number Thirty Eight, at 3560 Chestnut Place, on September 30. When the pandemic hit, Branz was working at Ultreia (where he is still a managing partner), the Union Station tapas restaurant from the Crafted Concepts restaurant group he'd been with for twelve years. Faced with the challenge of a vacant downtown and the fact that to-go tapas was not a viable concept, Branz scrambled to figure out what to do. "I just got a bit beat down," he remembers, "and I was like, 'I just want to hang out with my friends and eat fried chicken.'"
Over at Number Thirty Eight (3560 Chestnut Place), the Split Lip crew takes the idea of a Denver twist on a chopped cheese even further, with a variation made with ground bison and green chiles along with onions, American cheese, fry sauce, shredded lettuce and tomato on a Gambino hoagie from New Orleans.
How many pickles is too many pickles? At Split Lip, our 2022 Best of Denver pick for the city's best hamburger, the limit does not exist. This venture started as a series of pandemic pop-ups from longtime hospitality pros who've now turned to creating a menu of crave-worthy, hyper-regional dishes full-time inside Number Thirty Eight.
Colorado was the 38th state to join the Union and Number Thirty Eight is an ode to all things Coloradoans love—aka, craft beer and being outside. This venue (which managed to open in the fall of 2020 despite the ongoing pandemic) features a drool-worthy menu from Split Lip Chicken, a beverage program highlighting locally made spirits and a wide array of Colorado brews, an outdoor stage for live music, and even sand volleyball courts. It’s basically an adult playground, and we’re here for it.r it is, the way you tell your story online can make all the difference.
What started as a pop-up for this trio of culinary veterans has become one of Denver’s most intriguing new fast-casual restaurants. Located inside Number 38, Split Lip Chicken combines a hyper-regional menu with a ‘fuck around and find out’ attitude. The fare offers a southern style hot chicken sandwich, Mississippi slug burger and more off-the-wall items like koolickles and boiled peanuts.
What we saw: Number Thirty Eight is a massive space, both inside and out. When you check in, you're given a wristband that connects with your credit card, so you don't ever have to get out your wallet to order another round. The interior is lined with stalls that function as mini-taprooms for breweries, cideries, wineries and distilleries from all over the state. There's also an in-house cocktail program that crafts seasonal drinks with fun twists, such as the Bag Lunch, a PB&J-inspired concoction made with Old Elk PB Whiskey, Woody Creek Bourbon and Chambord with a mini-PB&J sandwich garnish.
At Number Thirty Eight (3560 Chestnut Street), a now-thriving restaurant, bar and entertainment complex that opened last October, the 18,000-square-foot patio (kids and dogs allowed) includes two beach volleyball courts, an outdoor movie screen and a full stage; a new agreement with a concert promoter brings in national acts like Wynonna Judd (Aug. 27) and Sam Bush (Sep. 9)...
While Denver doesn’t lack for places to cut loose, consider heading to the River North Art District (affectionately known as RiNo by the locals) to the newly opened Number Thirty Eight social hall — a sprawling complex featuring four kitchens (helmed by Merlin Verrier, the former culinary director of Lollapalooza); taprooms with local brewers, distillers, wineries, and cideries; a stage with rotating live music and comedy acts; a sand volleyball court (!), and the largest outdoor patio in Denver.
Most of the outdoor activities that contribute to Coloradans’ active lifestyle aren’t truly complete before enjoying a cold beer. Whether you’re reminiscing on the knee-deep powder runs and perfect weather or hoping for a better day tomorrow, the act of drinking with your crew after an epic day of skiing, hiking, mountain biking, climbing, or fishing is the perfect conclusion to a day spent outside. This après lifestyle is exactly what Number 38 epitomizes as RiNo’s new social gathering place.
Opening today, the concept offers a variety of food, drinks and entertainment and plans to continue open-air shows throughout the winter.
Number Thirty Eight, a new, massive food, drink and live-music venue in RiNo, is about as Colorado-centric as it gets. The name refers to how this great state was the 38th to join the union; there are 24 local brews on tap, and the space serves local spirits, as well. Founders Spencer Fronk and Andrew Palmquist say it boasts 18,000 square feet of outdoor space. That includes a huge patio, stage and volleyball courts, all of which take a cue from Colorado’s après-ski culture. And that means Number Thirty Eight will be hosting outdoor concerts even after the weather turns cold.
This year seems like a strange time to open an expansive food, drink and live-music venue capable of holding more than a thousand guests at full capacity. But Spencer Fronk and and Andrew Palmquist have been planning Number Thirty Eight, at 3560 Chestnut Place, for the past two years, and many of their original ideas fit right in with these socially distanced, contact-free days.
We’ve all been starved for live music the last few months. The livestream shows have been cool, but they really aren’t the same. The energy of a live band, the buzz of an audience, the lights, the drinks, friends and atmosphere are all missing from those virtual performances. The experience is not as much of an experience.
But, with the opening of Number 38 in RiNo, Denver’s newest live music venue, that’s about to change. Live music is back, baby! (No tickets or cover-fee, required). And with it, you’ll find a selection of delicious handheld foods, a rotating variety of only-local craft beer and liquor, an après area and even (eventually) the chance to play some beach volleyball — all in a safe, healthy environment.