By Mark Antonation, Westword | 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.
Number Thirty Eight is the first in a series of entertainment venues Fronk and Palmquist have planned for several states, with Austin, Portland and Columbus also in the works. The name refers to Colorado’s position as the 38th state to join the Union, and the theme of the place honors the Centennial State’s past and present. As a destination, the venue, built from a former neon sign factory, comprises an outdoor stage and volleyball courts and an indoor restaurant with four service counters and two bars that run the entire length of the 12,000-square-foot interior.
“We’re trying to encapsulate what it means to live in Colorado,” Fronk states. “We’re going to create the après lifestyle right here in the city.”
What the co-owner is getting at is that Number Thirty Eight is built for guests to experience the Colorado outdoors, no matter the time of year. While the interior space is big, the outdoor area is even bigger, at 18,000 square feet, encompassing different seating and standing areas, a covered stage for live music and other entertainment, an outdoor bar and sand volleyball courts (available for league members). The whole thing looks out onto the Platte River and the Rocky Mountains beyond. Palmquist and Fronk plan to keep outdoor programming going throughout the year, relying on Colorado’s mostly sunny weather as well as the state’s love of being outdoors even in the winter.
Most of the customer experience is designed with minimal contact in mind. Guests check in at the entry and present their IDs to received a color-coded wristband, since Number Thirty Eight welcomes all ages. The host also takes temperatures, phone numbers and credit cards, and the wristbands come with a chip that then replaces cash and cards throughout the building. So you can pay as you go without having to reach for your purse or wallet, and the wristbands can all be connected to one credit card for corporate events or other groups who want to pay from just one account.
The food comes courtesy of chef Merlin Verrier’s Street Feud, which previously served tacos, bao buns and flatbread at Avanti Food & Drink. …
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While the venue is capable of hosting 1,000 or so guests outside and hundreds inside, for now capacity is limited to 175 on the patios and about sixty inside. …
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Number Thirty Eight opened Friday, October 9, and will be open from 3 p.m. to midnight Thursdays and Fridays, 11 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays. (Last call in Denver is currently 11 p.m.) Call 303-493-6651 or visit http://www.nmbr38.com for more details.
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Mark Antonation is the Westword Food & Drink Editor. He got his start by eating at and writing about every restaurant on Federal Boulevard and continues to cover metro Denver’s diverse international food scene, as well as the city’s quickly changing restaurant landscape. Mark was awarded Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association in 2018.