The word “no” isn’t in Josh Schmitz’s vocabulary. So when a LoDo landlord approached the owner of Handsome Boys Hospitality with the idea to open five new eating and drinking concepts in downtown Denver, he was up for the challenge.
On April 6 — which happened to be the Colorado Rockies’ home opener –Handsome Boys Hospitality took over 32,000 square feet of space at the corner of 20th and Market streets and debuted five spots: Con Safos, El Patio, Jaguar Room, Tony Tenderonis and Agua Bendita.
The building was previously home to three bars: El Tejano, Smash Face and Loaded, which were co-owned by the property’s landlord Fillmore Capital Partners.
“It’s not possible for me to half-ass anything, so we cannonballed in for the whole opportunity,” Schmitz said. “Not to say that we’re not nervous or anxious. There’s definitely been a couple nights of anxiety and throwing up, but we’re equal parts excited and nervous.”
Handsome Boys Hospitality, which Schmitz founded with business partners Matt Haberman and Brandon Jundt in 2020, owns a group of themed restaurants and bars around town, including RiNo Country Club, a putt-putt bar; Casey Jones, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-themed pizza joint on Broadway; and Telephone Pub, a Harry Potter-inspired bar in Lakewood.
Fillmore Capital Partners, Knitting Factory Entertainment and The Buckhead restaurant group opened El Tejano, Loaded and Smash Face Brewing in October 2021, hoping to breathe new life into the block. But they were underperforming, Schmitz said, and all three closed this month. Schmitz said he was approached by Fillmore Capital, who he was introduced to by Monfort Companies, which owns Riot House and Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row across the street, to try a new approach to livening up the downtown corner.
“This is our way of showing what local operators, local owners, local staff and local concepts can do,” Schmitz said.
The first new spot is Con Safos, a Mexican party bar with street tacos and Mexican sushi, like birria rolls or sushi rolls with green chile instead of eel sauce. It is on the ground floor of 1949 Market St. El Patio, upstairs, is a rooftop bar with mezcal-focused cocktails; it is decorated like “an Instagram dream” with lots of colors and floral arrangements, Schmitz said.
“Being from Denver, I’ve seen our huge Chicano market here, and I think they’re underrepresented,” Schmitz said. “There’s not really a middle ground between crazy dance clubs and something that’s a bit more corporate, like Chicago-based Federales.”
In place of Loaded, Schmitz and Global Dance, a Denver-based electronic music events company, opened Jaguar Room, an electronic music dance club. And Smash Face Brewing, located at 1937 Market St., is now Tony Tenderonis, a sports bar serving chicken fingers and beer.
“Think of it as an alcoholic Raising Canes,” Schmitz said.
The fifth and final bar is a 14-seat hidden speakeasy called Agua Bendita that guests have to enter through a confessional booth.
All five bars and restaurants are in one large building but each one has a separate entrance, except for El Patio, which can be accessed from both Jaguar Room and Con Safos.
Schmitz said the restaurant group got the keys for the spaces two days before the St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 11, and he and his employees worked quickly to revamp them with new paint, decorations and branding.
“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Schmitz said. “The sleeping bags and hammocks have been here since we got the keys. All of the changes were aesthetic, which is kind of why our company thrives. There is a different look and feel to every space, but our team is the one swinging hammers, painting, and not worrying about plumbing or structural changes, which is why we can get into spaces so quickly, and I think developers are starting to take notice of that.”
Handsome Boys Hospitality, which is backed by Wynkoop Financial, which Schmitz’s partner Jundt is the president and founder of, has hired 300 employees to operate all five concepts, adding to its already 200-person staff, Schmitz said.
“The way we built our team during COVID really put us in a prime position to scale as fast as we have,” Schmitz said. “Everyone became free agents during COVID, and we basically started loading our roster with killer operators and treating them right, so as opportunities come up we already have people in the batting line-up ready to take leadership positions.”
Handsome Boys Hospitality’s five new bars and restaurants are joining Monfort Companies’ new project to revamp the iconic El Chapultepec and Giggling Grizzly, which Monfort Companies bought in November last year and plan to combine as one new elevated bar.
“We want to change the culture of 20th and Market, which once had a bad reputation, but being across from Dierks Bentley, Riot House and ViewHouse, I think we can transform this into a fun entertainment district and get rid of the term ‘Bro Row,’” Schmitz said.
In addition to these five new downtown spots, the local restaurant group is opening Villa, a high-end tapas and sangria bar, at 1416 Market St. this summer.
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