This story first ran on BusinessDen.com, a BizWest news partner.
DENVER — A Denver real estate broker and self-proclaimed music lover is dancing to a new tune.
Pete Foster of Madison Commercial Properties was just representing a long-term client, Yimaj “Steve” Kalifa, in a $4.4 million deal to buy the building at 1448 Market St. when he developed a vision for a 1920s-style jazz club in the space. Kalifa told him to run with it.
“It started as a real estate deal, and this is my baby now,” Foster said.
Foster said Kalifa gave him full creative control, resulting in Orchid Denver, which opens next Friday with live performances from Brionne Aigne & Dax Oliver and Ramakhandra. Foster said jazz will be a focus, but he’s open to all talented musicians.
“I do love jazz and blues, but I want to explore that,” Foster said. “Get some fusion, world music, bluegrass even.”
Foster said the concept gradually unfolded as he secured a liquor license and spoke with residents about what they wanted for the neighborhood.
“It’s an evolving vision, I didn’t go into it with a complete picture,” Foster said. “It’s like a Bob Ross painting – this is a happy little accident.”
The Market Street building was previously home to Dorchester Social. Foster originally was thinking of calling the venue LIV Denver, but said he decided he wanted something more symbolic.
“Orchids will sit dormant for a long time, and this building sat dormant for a long time,” said Foster, also an avid gardener. “Now it’s getting some new life, it’s about to bloom again. So I thought it was very fitting.”
The venue has three distinct spaces: the bar area, the main dining and stage room, and the rooftop patio, any of which can be booked for private events. The club has long, red velvet booths and red and gold accents throughout.
The venue will be open Tuesday through Saturday, with two live shows a night. Tuesday and Wednesday will be free admission, while Thursday through Saturday will be ticketed shows.
Foster and Kalifa invested roughly $450,000 to build out the 9,800-square-foot space and expect to hire 100 employees. Foster said the base floor fits 210 people and the patio can accommodate 166, although that space won’t be open until Mother’s Day.
“I think we’ve created something that’s really unique; there’s not a lot of places like this,” Foster said. “A lot of venues are packed in there. This is very loungey.”
Orchid Denver will be one of two local businesses that Foster and Kalifa co-own. The pair will also operate an event center at 119 S. Broadway come July, after current tenant Archetype Distillery moves out.
The partners plan on opening similar concepts in Washington D.C., where Kalifa lives, and are looking in other markets. But Foster said he’s not leaving real estate anytime soon.
Next door to Orchid Denver is The Regular, a restaurant that is set to open in May. Owners Syd Younggreen and Brian de Souza are also opening a fine-dining restaurant, The Guest, just two blocks away.
“This whole block by this fall is going to be pretty happening, I would say,” Foster said.