New cocktail lounge in the mix after closing of Barkley Ballroom in Frisco |

New cocktail lounge in the mix after closing of Barkley Ballroom in Frisco

Co. Bar co-owner Kacper Grochowalski pours a drink Jan. 4 in Frisco. Co. Bar will be closing its doors Saturday, Aug. 3.
Hugh Carey /

At a new cocktail lounge in Frisco, everything starts at the bar.

Summit County’s new locally owned and operated co. bar opened Nov. 23 at 610 Main St. after the space underwent a major face-lift.

As someone might guess, the name — co. bar — speaks to the new owners’ decision to emphasize locally brewed beers, Colorado wines and spirits crafted in state.

“Everything starts with the bar,” said Dustin Ford, one of the new owners.

“That was the whole concept behind the co. bar — let’s do a lot of collaborations with Colorado spirits,” added Ford’s business partner, Kacper Grochowalski. “Colorado has really stepped up its game making whiskies, gins and spirits in general. … So we might as well support everybody around us and bring the party back to Frisco.”

The co. bar is the product of a new partnership between business co-owners Ford and Grochowalski, and their landlord, Dan Fallon.

All three say their new bar menu is unlike any other in Frisco, covering the basics with 10 Prohibition-era cocktails and offering 10 more cocktails as house specials, all made with Colorado spirits.

On tap, the bar has beer from three local breweries, including Outer Range and HighSide in Frisco, along with the Silverthorne-based Angry James Brewery. Additionally, co. bar has brought in local musicians, hung local artwork on its walls and even hosted a new comedy night.

“What you see here is primarily an expression of what (Ford and Grochowalski) think will resonate with locals and visitors,” Fallon said. “So far, the response has been good, and I think they’re doing a phenomenal job in terms of rolling out this new concept.”

Fallon has owned the space on Main Street Frisco since 1995. He opened his first club there in 1997, and over the years, one has operated at that location in one form or another. Before co. bar, it was The Barkley Ballroom.

But the co-owners of The Barkley Ballroom, Todd Altschuler and Keegan Casey, left in April to open 10 Mile Music Hall, a new venue tailor-made for live music performances just down the street from their old spot. Their exit created an opportunity for another duo to step in.

“After they left, I started thinking about what I wanted to have happen here next,” Fallon said of the transition. “I’ve always loved the space. I’ve always loved the potential, and I really wanted to explore again the presence of a really good, multi-faceted, club-bar concept.”

Describing what he wanted, Fallon said it had to be an all-inclusive joint with a high degree of execution and a diverse array of entertainment programming. Moreover, he wanted a unique experience that people can’t get anywhere else for miles and something that could appeal both to longtime locals, as well as the flocks of tourists.

“I was hoping to find a couple local guys who really saw the same value and opportunity that I did,” Fallon said, as he explained how he found Ford and Grochowalski.

The two young men are long-time friends in their 30s and pretty well established in the area. For their part, Ford and Grochowalski were able to become business partners and secure a large space just under 5,000 square feet on Main Street Frisco with little capital up front.

For Ford and Grochowalski, the opportunity was too good to pass up, and in addition to all the nods to Colorado they’ve put in place, they look forward to expanding the business. In fact, this week they started up a new food menu featuring items such as flatbreads, salads, sandwiches and charcuterie.

“There’s nothing like this for a long way,” said Fallon, who thinks that Ford and Grochowalski are just beginning to unpack all of co. bar’s potential.

All three say the community’s reaction so far has been amazing, but one of the former owners of The Barkley Ballroom might have the highest praise for the young entrepreneurs who’ve taken over the space.

“I think what they’ve done with that room is awesome,” Altschuler said. “When I go in there, I don’t even feel like I’m in the old Barkley’s — I’m in an awesome lounge drinking cocktails. The drink selection is awesome, and I’m really pumped about what they’ve done with that spot.”

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