The Monkey on the Corner

Jan 252006
Authors: Meg Burd

For anyone who takes a trip down to Old Town once and awhile, the corner of College Avenue and Oak Street has always been an area where changes seem to be taking place.

Known in a variety of incarnations, from a restaurant to a tequila bar to a dance spot, a glance in the window now finds swings hanging from the ceiling, jungle thatch covering the walls and occasionally the strains of karaoke as the Drunken Monkey, one of the newest additions to the Old Town barscape.

However, establishing a new bar in Fort Collins might be a tricky venture.

Opened only since the fall, the Drunken Monkey Cantina (151 S. College Ave) has been no stranger to controversy. For some downtown business owners and others who frequent Old Town areas, the neon sign proclaiming the new bar's name was not something appreciated.

For manager Jamie Rice, however, the name is not indicative of the sort of clientele she feels frequents the bar. While the name suggests drunken revelers partying, she feels the establishment (named not after a soused simian but rather a form of martial arts) is more geared toward those who just want to go and have some fun.

"We have an older crowd," says Rice of the bar's patrons, "not so much college students. We're not catering to binge drinking clientele."

Noting that there are no plans of changing the name, Rice said she believes people will come to the venue for a variety of reasons not associated with binge drinking.

Citing the swings, staff and music selections as elements that set the bar apart from others in the area, Rice feels the Drunken Monkey is indeed a special place on a street, which is loaded with many other competing bars.

"We have a lot of bachelorette parties and birthday parties," Rice notes of some of the activities that take place at the bar. "It's a largely female crowd. It's generally a more fun bar – we play Madonna and Prince. It's for people who want to dance."

Rice likewise notes that, while not widely known, the bar also specializes in tequilas, with over thirty varieties ranging in prices.

"We have great margaritas," Rice said.

For Basho W. Parks, a Fort Collins resident, who, at one point was a local bar manager himself, a recent experience at the Drunken Monkey proved less-than-thrilling.

"Immediately upon entering, I saw to my left a cage which had been designated as some kind of dance-punishment area," Parks noted of the establishment. "The term 'meat market' was on the tip of my tongue."

Citing poor service and the expense of the drinks, Watson noted that, while originally stopping in for the novelty of the swings and jungle theme, he has no plans on going back.

With the coming and going of new bars such as the Drunken Monkey, controversy seems all but inevitable. Just recently, dispute stewed over the potential introduction of the Purple Martini into an Old Town location, with some local businesses arguing that it would introduce more drinking into the town and provide more competition for existing bars.

With upcoming promotions such as the Coors Light Wingman contest, which the Drunken Monkey hopes to conduct over the course of a year, Rice and those who favor the Monkey plan to increase visibility and activities at the bar.

While the Drunken Monkey hopes to be different and entertaining enough to set itself apart from the previous incarnations and other bars in the area (as well as overcome the controversy its name earlier sparked) some patrons already see the bar as yet another in a long run of ill-fated businesses that filled the corner.

"Be it Del Sol, The Avenue, Drunken Monkey, or the Swingin' Swan – bad business is bad business is bad business… I'll never go back," Parks said.

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