Walk into Ace, uptown’s newest trendy hotspot, and the first thing you’ll notice is how cohesive the space feels for a place that contains three unique entities – a restaurant, a bar (ok, these two typically go together), and a ping-pong hall. Yes that is correct, a ping-pong hall. These entities blend together seamlessly due to the vision of restaurateur Josh Wolkon, the brainchild behind other popular Denver eateries such as Steuben’s and Vesta Dipping Grill. The space is loft-like, with high arched ceilings, exposed brick, and large glass windows. The cohesiveness however, is due to Ace’s decorative theme, one which can only be described as “reclaimed and upcycled cool” – a style that we here at Revampt aim to perfect. The use of recycled materials throughout the space is what caught our attention to this hip uptown hangout.
Just take one look around Ace and you will notice that most everything, from the buildings structure, to its decoration, has been crafted out of recycled materials. The bar, upon which one-of-a-kind drinks are served, is made from old boxcar flooring, the walls from recycled pallets, the maitre d’s table and other side tables from airplane cowling, and the lights from old gas canisters. And this is just to name a few examples! Wolkon’s passion for using recycled materials in his eateries has evolved throughout his career – starting at his first restaurant, Vesta Dipping Grill, where all the water glasses were cut from old wine bottles. From there this design aesthetic evolved. Steuben’s, Wolkon’s second restaurant, is akin to a time-capsule harkening back to 1940’s and 1950’s classic American style and cuisine. Finally Ace, Wolkon’s newest venue, is his pièce de résistance in terms of the upcycling aesthetic. The original building was first constructed in the early 1900’s and has seen several different occupants since; most previously the building housed a Storz Garage – a local auto repair shop. Masterpiece
At first sight, Wolkon knew that there was built in character to the space and he aimed to capitalize on it by refurbishing and reusing as much of the original building and its materials as possible. During construction, the crew peeled back the original flat ceiling to reveal a beautiful arched roof. They decided to reuse the old ceiling boards as wall trimming, partitions, and tables in the dining room. They also tore away the plastered walls to reveal a beautiful brick wall; some of which was painted over. After scrapping away the paint they decided to leave the beautiful brick exposed – adding to the loft-like feel. During construction, Wolkon and his crew were constantly on the hunt for one-of-a-kind unique materials and pieces to decorate their new restaurant. They went to multiple scrap yards, which is where they found old airplane parts, tossed out deck wood which they decided to use as patio furniture, and old planting boxes. One of the coolest recycled materials Wolkon and his crew discovered was a slightly rusted, teal-green shipping crate from China. Using some serious industrial tools, they cut the shipping crate in large strips and built it in as the front of the bar. The crate’s doors were tweaked into sliding doors which now separate the main ping-pong hall and a private dining and playing area. They also used the crate as trimming for the patio fencing. For all it’s different uses at Ace, it’s pretty impressive that it all came from one single shipping crate.
In addition to this, Wolkon’s personal favorite upcycled decoration is an old neon sign that reads “Cut Rate Liquor” in giant green and pink letters. Wolkon came across the broken down sign hanging over a liquor shop on Broadway. The shop owner had been meaning to fix it up for years, but when Wolkon strolled in and pronounced that he would buy the sign on the spot, the original owner couldn’t pass up such a great deal. Wolkon put a little elbow grease into the old sign, and now it hangs in the doorway between the main bar and the patio area of Ace.
It is clear that Wolken understand how the ambiance of a restaurant can be vital to the overall experience of each guest. And that’s why he had fun constructing and decorating Ace. If he created an environment that he wanted to be in, to have a drink, sit down to dinner, or play a pickup game of pong with friends – he knew that others would appreciate the same ambiance. The bottom line is that Wolkon has created a place that is not only environmentally conscientious in its design, but also undeniably cool.
Visit Ace Monday-Friday 11am-midgnight and Saturday and Sunday 11am-2am.