The New East Colfax Middleman: Jareb Parker
Name: Jareb Parker
Business: Middleman Bar
3401 E Colfax Ave. Denver 80206
When did you open Middleman Bar?
“June 19th, 2018.”
What is the story behind the name of the bar?
“Bar culture is very important to us, so being a part of a community and bringing people together was always the goal. The name 'Middleman' denotes a facilitator, hopefully creating a space with opportunity to make connections with other neighborhood folk, artists, creators, and our amazing staff.”
What were you doing before opening Middleman?
“I was building custom furniture and motorcycles for a while, and I've been a bartender most of my life. My cousin and partner, Charlie Thomas, was really the driving force behind the decision to open. He has a business background, and mine is in Architecture. We figured together, with the help of his wife Jordan and our family, we had the skill and knowledge to pull it off.”
How did you find the location? What were the design influences? What company(ies) did you work with to design your space?
“It took a good year to land a location we were happy with. I spent months walking neighborhoods, calling on spaces we had any interest in at all. Ultimately it was the other existing businesses in the area paired with deep residential zones to the north and south that made our final decision. The Bluebird District is vibrant and interesting, but still a little gritty with tons of personality.
The interior is meant to be simple and functional, but comfortable. I would say design influences couple American Craftsman with a Modernist's predilection for clean lines and purposeful use of texture and material. I began the woodwork in my garage months before we had access to the building, and I designed and hand-built the interior space. My friend Andrew Evan John helped with the nuts and bolts, and Jordan Thomas was invaluable for aesthetic decisions.
How would you describe the aesthetic and style of the space?
“We're a neighborhood bar at heart, but we figured that's no reason we couldn't also craft a phenomenal cocktail at a reasonable price. That mentality informed how the space would be designed and used. I prefer a style that's clean and bold, while also being cozy and welcoming. As a carpenter, I wanted to feature very specific elements and textures. The wood, for example, I carefully chose and treated not only to be beautiful but to genuinely feel good. We worked with our good friend and local artist, RUMTUM (click for more), to create unique and fun artwork. He did a really great job.”
What are some specialties about your bar that you offer?
“Beside having a stellar staff that will make you an excellent cocktail and make you feel at home instantly, we offer comfort-style bar bites with a New Mexican flair. My brother, Justin Parker, is executive chef and the food menu is his creation. He was inspired by his own love of cooking and some of our Grandmother's recipes he's particularly fond of.
Our cocktails are front and center. Bartenders Lawrence Mack, Courtney Smith and Trey Hamik designed our original cocktails, and between them and our other staff, they have enough bar knowledge to publish a book at this point. We chose every beer, wine, and spirit we carry as something we're excited about, something we want to work with. Amari and vermouths are particular favorites here, as well as unusual spirits like genepy and mastiha. Honestly, if it's weird and tasty, we're likely to try and put it in a cocktail.
For events, we like to do all sorts of things. Weekends usually feature a DJ or two, and we have several residents we enjoy very much. Monday nights you can bring your own vinyl and board games (I usually play my own records as well). We love pop-up markets, hosting neighborhood clubs, late night Happy Hour, and generally anything that catches our interest.”
Goals for 2019?
“Refining how we approach the business. First in my mind is cultivating an inviting, inclusive culture. Then follows our product and how we present it. As long as we're getting better at what we do, I can say we've been successful. Making enough money to pay bills says that too, I suppose.”
Any additional information you'd like to share?
“Seriously. Come play a record with me.”