Dan Fallon Chills out
FRISCO – Dan Fallon first stepped behind the bar at Barkley’s 17 years ago, pouring cocktails and draft beer for minimal pay and mostly tips. He bought the place in 1995, then in three years opened Barkley’s West nightclub just steps away from the restaurant, below street level on Main Street.He sold the restaurant last summer, saying that running both businesses was driving him crazy. Barkley’s Margaritagrille, owned by Michelle and Dave McCrae, is still open under its original name.Fallon then turned his attention to the nightclub. In November, he closed it for seven weeks to completely redesign the interior. It reopened at the end of December. Changes include new, cushy furniture, snazzy bar top, relocated entrance on the street level and updated interior design. The biggest change: Fallon dunked the moniker he had associated himself with for nearly two decades and chose “Chill” to rename the establishment. Business reporter Kim Marquis had a cocktail at Chill recently and discussed the club business with the town’s only nightclub owner. The atmosphere is quite different in here now. What are you trying to achieve?
“We took it back to the studs; new colors, opened it up a bit. We want to serve people who want to go out for a casual drink and relax. If four people want to sit in a corner, talk and receive good service, they can do that and not be bothered.”In the past, you’ve bemoaned the number of bars on Main Street compared to the relatively few number of young people who party in town. Many of them work $8-an-hour jobs and are looking for a deal. Are you changing your demographic?”Not changing, but expanding by offering a wider range of services, an expanded game room, improved cocktail menu, bottle service and relaxing sofas and chairs. We wanted people to feel comfortable whether they’re in jeans and a cap or stiletto heels and a black cocktail dress.”Does that mean the hook-up won’t be found here?”We still have locals’ night on Tuesday, but you’re not going to see deep discounts. If you want free drinks, this is not your establishment. In Breckenridge, lots of bars have their nights discount-driven. Each one makes their week on one night. That competition has killed the quality. I’m in a position to offer a quality product and stand on it. “
“Barkley’s” is nearly a household name for Frisco residents. That kind of recognition takes years to establish. How hard was it to walk away from?”If you look up and down Main Street, every time a new place opens up it resets the bar in terms of texture and ambiance. Barkley’s West was a shade of itself. The last two years it was running on fumes. This is such a departure from what we were and what we had. It’s so close to me personally that I had to have a line of demarcation.”What makes you think an evolution will work?”It’s incumbent upon us to embrace new trends rather than go by the old standards. The Moose Jaw is an anomaly; there’s only so much quaint to go around. After that, you have to be relevant to some degree. The Front Range is big enough and people travel through here enough and we’re comfortable enough that we can establish a name. Frisco is a market, but the millions of people on the Front Range is also a market.” Why “Chill”?”When you make such a drastic change to an environment, it’s important to associate yourself with a new approach, new style and new substance. When you come up with a different name, you want it to evoke different ideas and feelings.”
What does the new name reflect?”We wanted a low-key atmosphere. It’s a nice place to relax, you know, ‘Chillin’ in the crib,’ but we didn’t want to call it ‘The Crib.’ It’s a double-entendre for the mountains, where it’s ‘chilly,’ and it’s also a bar expression concerning how you treat a cocktail – chilled Stoli.”Not only did you change the name, but you moved the entrance. I’ve lived in this town nine years and couldn’t find the door.”We like the Speakeasy feeling of the small door on street level. It’s a low-key entrance. People will find us. Frisco is a small town.”You’re 43 now. It seems your establishments have matured with you over the years. Would you agree?”The club reflects what I search out now. Intimate seating reflects my taste. This isn’t a franchise. I started with a hole in the ground and this is where I’m at now.”
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