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Meet Bar-k, and get new flavor at Underground/Brewer's Republic

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Bar-k and a little bite

Close to year's end, business partners George Fields, Ken Binning and Karen Hrncir aim to open Bar-k at 124 E. Costilla St., site today of The Cobalt Club. That 8-year-old, members-only entity will move a couple blocks down to 530 S. Nevada Ave., to enjoy a "better layout," according to its GM, Dennis Bryant.

But Fields sounds beyond excited to take over the 3,200 square feet on Sept. 15, before it undergoes at least a couple months of renovation.

"This has been my dream forever. I love the dynamics of being a bartender and working with people," he says, adding that he also doesn't mind the back-end bookkeeping, office work and marketing. Fields cites 18 years' industry experience that includes stints at Phantom Canyon and The Broadmoor, many years as GM at Paravicini's, and his current bartending gig at Jake and Telly's. Binning also holds a drink and dining resumé that includes a former partnership in the pre-fire 15C.

Together, "we're looking at doing a higher-end bar," says Fields, with hand-squeezed fresh juices, Colorado craft spirits, and seasonal items like a Rocky Ford cantaloupe martini. A pending decision on whether to do a glycol system will inform how many house beer taps we'll see, but rest assured they'll be majority Colorado as well. There's no kitchen on site, so any food service will likely consist of items like a cheese and charcuterie plate.

The partners like the location because of upcoming south-end developments such as Blue Dot Place, and the name, Fields says, stems from both Ken and Karen starting with "K," but also with all parties being dog lovers. Fields' wife is a dog trainer, in fact — though to be clear, your pooch won't be able to accompany you into Bar-k.

Bon to Brewer's

Chef Bon Hewlett — off recent stints for Bourbon Brothers and Sonterra, but best known for around six years of service to Phantom Canyon — recently took over as the white coat in charge of The Underground and Brewer's Republic (110-112 N. Nevada Ave., see Facebook pages). That means he'll also lead Cerberus Brewing Company, owned by the same folks, when it opens sometime early next year at 702 W. Colorado Ave.

Hewlett's first order of business has been a complete menu overhaul, with even familiar pizzas receiving new dough and sauce recipes. He calls the mix "pubby bar food with a twist," factoring in ample freshness through salads, and fun with items like jalapeño-corn risotto cakes with bacon-onion jam.

The outfit's also relaunching brunch hours Sept. 5, now 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, with specialty cocktails and a menu that Hewlett says steers away from heavy items like biscuits and gravy in favor of lighter fare like quinoa pancakes, plus lunchier items like salads and sandwiches. One sneak peek at Cerberus' offerings: He mentions a newly purchased pig roaster for weekly roasts.

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