Sep 012004
Authors: Joanna Larez

A new bar that never has a cover charge and offers a sophisticated lounge atmosphere with affordable drink prices and live entertainment opened in Old Town last weekend.

The Mugs Underground Lounge is owned by the same people as Mugs Coffee Lounge, 261 S. College Ave., and the bar opening comes at the same time the coffee lounge is celebrating its second anniversary.

The bar, in the basement of the coffee lounge, made a remarkable debut with a line that curved around the building front for the grand opening on Friday that featured the local band Matson Jones.

The Old Town location is the second for the coffee shop, which is also serving customers at 1033 Taft Hill Road.

Cara Shonsey, a senior civil engineering major, waited in line for the grand opening as she anticipated another great night at Mugs. Shonsey returned to Fort Collins from New York right before classes started, and she made Mugs one of her first stops.

“I pretty much got into town and came straight here with my friends,” Shonsey said.

Prior to the bar’s opening, Shonsey was a satisfied patron of Mugs Coffee Lounge and expected that the bar would only add more to the business.

“The fact that they have free shows is awesome,” Shonsey said.

The bar is open Tuesday through Sunday. Beer and wine can be purchased upstairs any day of the week. Live entertainment will take place Wednesday through Saturday and occasionally on Tuesdays. Sundays will feature a full Bloody Mary buffet with hopes of live acoustic music, Stromberg said.

“The theme is a nicer atmosphere,” Stromberg said. “There are great drink specials with a lounge feeling instead of a bar feeling.”

The bar includes top-shelf liqueurs to complement the classier environment.

The underground lounge is not exclusively a music venue; it also displays local art pieces. Wine-tasting nights are expected to take place every other month, possibly monthly. Movie nights in the lounge are currently being planned, and Stromberg said a poker tournament is expected to take place at the end of September.

Upcoming events can be found listed in the Scene, the Bull Horn, on menus at Mugs, and they will soon be listed on the Web site,

“It’s baffling to me that comedy isn’t (in Fort Collins),” Stromberg said. “We’re going to try to cap on that immediately.”

Mugs is currently working with Comedy Works out of Denver to get the tours to extend to Mugs as its stop for Northern Colorado, Stromberg said.

Mugs’ upstairs portion offers a quiet place to study even when live events are taking place downstairs. There are areas upstairs overlooking the lounge where music can be heard clearly, but the seats on the other side of the building and the outside patio maintain the quieter, relaxed atmosphere.

“If you want just coffee and that sort of thing, the Taft Hill Road location is a great place,” Stromberg said.

The lounge allows a transition from the daytime coffee break to the nighttime drinking atmosphere. Coffee from upstairs can be taken down to the lounge if patrons are not interested in drinking but want to go downstairs for the live entertainment.

McCabe Callahan, owner, is a CSU alumnus, who opened Mugs on Taft Hill Road a few months prior to his December 2002 graduation.

Stromberg said store employees understand what it is like to college-student patrons in Fort Collins, and they are still young and can easily relate to students.

“Fort Collins is lacking intimate, inexpensive atmospheres,” Stromberg said. “As we were sitting around talking about what we wanted, we kept that in mind.”

A majority of the employees are CSU students, Stromberg said.

“It’s definitely a team effort,” Stromberg said. “We truly value how important our employees are. The number one thing is customer service, and we couldn’t do it without our employees.”

Adam Crane, a senior majoring in natural resources recreation and tourism, is an employee who works at the Taft Hill location and attended the grand opening. He enjoyed the anniversary celebration and was excited about the bar’s debut.

“I think it’s going to be awesome,” Crane said. “I don’t see any obstacles in their way.”

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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