“Great service and consistently good food, that’s the essence of the Cherry Cricket,” explained co-owner Lee Driscoll. And that’s exactly what the team behind the new Cherry Cricket on Blake Street aimed to replicate in opening their new location.
The Cherry Cricket has been a Denver institution since its doors first opened in 1945. As the black sheep of a historically upscale neighborhood, this casual joint has been serving affordable bites and consistent drinks and doing it all with great service since for years. It will celebrate its 73rd anniversary on October 2nd, shortly after the doors of its second location, open to the public tomorrow. While those who have come to know and love the Cricket are anticipating this monumental day, we’re also hoping that the new space will embody the same welcoming environment that the original location provided so well.
“I was always afraid that we wouldn’t be able to transfer the magic from the first Cricket here. That fairy dust, if you will, that makes is so special,” expressed Lee. So in an attempt to recreate that beloved original location Lee and his team drew from the two aspects that they believed to be the center of its magic — consistency in food and consistency in service.
Originally the home of a Breckenridge Brewery (soon after called the Breck on Blake) the 10,000-square-foot space is now home to the new Cherry Cricket. But it had to undergo some massive renovations before it was ready to open to the public. The high ceilings and open floor plan were transformed into a space that, like the original location, felt warm, cozy and comfortable.
“It’s Cricket-esque,” said designer and studioM Principal Chelle Maestas. “We were trying to maintain the casual atmosphere from the original cricket but of course do that without being cookie-cutter. One thing we love about the original Cricket that we love is the different rooms. Guests can walk into that main bar in the evening but if you go in for lunch which a lot of people do it’s totally different. You can use the different rooms for different reasons, whether you’re looking to drink and chat, hang with the family, go on the patio in the summer with the family. There’s a space for everyone.”
And the new location surely accommodated for that element. The massive space is broken up into multiple environments. From the expansive bar, adorned with multiple televisions and high-top tables for guest to watch a game, drink and dine or simply chat, to the living room-esque space called The Cherry Room to another room that caters to intimate dinners, an arcade room in the back and a to-go space for customers on the run — their new location replicated the separate zones of its predecessor, on a grander scale.
“When we thought of doing another cricket we did a community survey to see what our clients wanted. Turns out one thing that people love about the original cricket is the multiple rooms and the fish tank, shockingly,” laughed Lee. “I guess its one of those kitschy things that people latch on to. So we brought the fish tank here, on a bigger scale. I think it’s actually one of the biggest tanks in Denver.”
The fish tank, which sits directly in the center of the space holds 1,500 gallons of water and is home exotic saltwater fish. In addition to catering to the community’s love for the fish tank and multiple rooms, the new Cricket took note of the popularity of their original locations dart board, but of course, though bigger.
“People love the dart board, so we decided to go with an entire game room,” explained Lee. “The dartboard area always fills up with people trying to play, so we wanted to stretch that out and create a space for people to play games without waiting in line.”
The room features multiple games from air hockey to Rock Band. It also boasts a tap system that allows guests to fill their own glass with the swipe of a pre-paid card. You no longer have to wait in line to play a game, or to wait in line for a refill and now, with the new to-go room, you no longer have to wait for food on the run.
Nearly 73 years after first opening its doors, the Cherry Cricket is still making one of the best burgers around. Like the environment, they’re not pretentious nor complicated. The Crickets burgers are classic like the space itself. And that simplicity carries over to the rest of their menu. From the club sandwich to the crispy mac & cheese bites and nachos, the food doesn’t boast exotic ingredients or high prices—it simply delivers consistent flavor that you can count on.
“The menu is exactly the same as the original location, that’s the anchor,” explained Lee. “We wanted to keep the Cricket’s essence intact, so keeping the menu allows us to do that. The space may change and the location may change but if you come to either Cherry Cricket you can bet that we’ll have your favorite lunch or late-night snack regardless.”
At the new location, just like the original, guests will find a multitude of appetizers, wings, traditional salads like the cobb and the wedge and of course — the Cricket burger. And though the space has expanded from an intimate nook on East 2nd to a 10,000 square foot space on Blake, those beloved traditional elements were retained.
Like with the food, Cherry Cricket wants to remain true to its past. However, it’s clear the new location is stepping up its game in the drinks department. From their new cocktail menu to the 32 beers on tap (which are mostly local) and boozy-shakes — the Cricket is not cutting corners when it comes to beverages.
“We brought in a completely new cocktail menu for this new location,” explained supervisor and bartender Laura Pratt. “Carl, the bar manager over at Carbon created it for us and he added some pretty fantastic stuff.”
One that Pratt says really stands out to her is the classic Aviation. It’s a gin cocktail shaken with Creme de Violette, served up and topped with a house-made bourbon soaked cherry — and you can only get it at their new location. The bartenders here make many of their mixers and syrups in the house, including a citrus-hop bitter for the old-fashioned. From the fresh cocktail menu to the extensive beer options and adult cocktails, the new Cricket’s bar has managed to keep to its casual and inviting roots while bringing in some new and exciting options — and that is something we can all cheers to.
“This neighborhood needed a space that brings it all,” expressed Lee. “We’re aiming to cater to everyone from the late-night crowd to families, lunchers, after-work drinkers… everyone… while retaining the essence of the Cricket. I’m excited for that to happen.”
The Cherry Cricket’s second location on 2220 Blake Street opens tomorrow at 11 a.m. For more information on their menu, hours and updates check out their website here.