BUSINESS NEWS: Jay Bianchi Turns Avenue Theater Space Into Owsley’s Crazy Diamond
By Jon Solomon, Westword | When Jay Bianchi opened Be on Key Psychedelic Ripple in the former Denver Wrangler space in 2016, he asked the landlord for first crack if any other spaces in the building became available. When the Avenue Theater closed earlier this year after a three-decade-plus run, Bianchi had first dibs and took it over.
He’s dubbing his latest venture Owsley’s Crazy Diamond.
Bianchi, who also owns Quixote’s True Blue and Sancho’s Broken Arrow, has opened and closed Owsley’s Golden Road locations in both Denver and Boulder. Now he’s resurrecting the first part of the moniker (named after Dead soundman and famed LSD chemist Owsley Stanley). But Owsley’s Crazy Diamond will be a bit different than Bianchi’s other Grateful Dead-centric bars. And the new spot’s name nods to the Pink Floyd song “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” which Bianchi says is about finding beauty in craziness.
The main question Bianchi says he got when he took over the theater space was what was going to happen to 150 seats in the 800-square-foot space. “It’s all about process rather than product,” he says. “I’d rather keep the seats, and if we decide we don’t need them, in the future we can get rid of them. But to take them out right away seems to be jumping the gun.”
Bianchi says his plan for Owsley’s Crazy Diamond, which will be connected to Be on Key Psychedelic Ripple through a new doorway, is to not only to host live music but to have film screenings and burlesque.
“It will open up the range,” he says. “Basically, whenever someone comes to our block, there’s something in the jam-band scene, but this allows me to put other stuff that’s not in the jam-band scene around there.”
As for breaking with tradition, that’s something Bianchi says he’s been doing his entire life.
“Sometimes people celebrate the norm too much, and sometimes we got to recognize the beauty in the weird and absurd and all that stuff, which is what I always did,” Bianchi says. “It’s the weird and the absurd and all that stuff that makes life a little more enjoyable sometimes.”
And that’s what Owsley’s Crazy Diamond promises to deliver. See for yourself this weekend at 1700 Logan Street.
The venue’s grand opening takes place Thursday, May 30, through Saturday, June 1, with three nights of performances by the psychedelic funk band Garaj Mahal.
Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he’s been the Clubs Editor since 2006.