With all the many things that go into developing and opening a restaurant, sound design can often be relegated to an understandable afterthought. Food and service tend to come first, with even the most audio-savvy joints designing systems that render music as a supporting act to the cuisine and decor.
Sunday Vinyl — the new downtown wine bar from Bobby Stuckey and the Frasca, Inc. team — is instead built around music. Two majestic Sonus Faber towers are conspicuously placed against the back wall — the elegant speakers acting as both heart and centerpiece for the vibrant locale. An additional 16 Sonus palladium speakers line the interior, even the bathrooms are outfitted with the hi-fidelity component. Three automated record players — including two wall-mounted versions and a colossal McIntosh MT 10 Precision Turntable — seamlessly cycle through an ever-growing collection of records curated by Vinyl Me, Please. The musical infrastructure provides a splendid visual and auditory backbone for the European-style wine bar. Patrons can expect a range of upbeat genres including funk from across the globe and classic punk — much of which speaks to Stuckey’s individual taste.
The concept — which has been roughly two years in the works — was originally inspired by a tradition of wine drinking and vinyl listening Stuckey and his wife Danette enjoyed on his only day off. The two developed something of a fanbase for their weekly Instagram posts featuring the evening’s selections. While mulling the name over, the two were apparently approached during a meal at The Modern in New York. “What are you going to play on Sunday,” asked the apparent admirer. It didn’t take long before the duo realized that Sunday Vinyl would be appropriate both in name and essence for the wine bar Danette had long envisioned joining the Frasca family.
The wine program is helmed by Clara Klein — a former sommelier at Tavernetta who previously spent five years at The Little Nell in Aspen — and Carlin Karr, who acts as wine director for all the Frasca affiliated restaurants. Unlike the other ventures, Sunday Vinyl favors France, with New Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and New World wines making up the other half of the relatively modest selection. Relatively being key here — the menu is formidable indeed, though it lacks the more encyclopedic tendencies found at Frasca and Tavernetta. Klein hopes the selection to be designed more for leisure, with many of the wines having “whispers of complexity.”
Unlike many wine bars, Sunday Vinyl was specifically curated as a place where patrons could enjoy a whole meal — Bobby Stuckey insisting that the menu not be limited to snacking. Even so, the menu is full of delightful small plates with no discernible global affiliation — an Italian restaurant this is not. Much of the kitchen staff was sent on a research mission covering New York, Rome, Paris and Copenhagen — the cuisine is a clear byproduct of the attentive global exploration. Chef Charlie Brooks built the menu taking full advantage of Frasca’s dinner-only service, utilizing the Boulder kitchen by day to test menu items. The list features a short but sweet selection of snacks, appetizers, entrees, cheese and charcuterie, sides and desserts — all built to stand gracefully on their own, but best served with wine. The porcini toast ($5) comes with two bite-sized crackers loaded with raclette, hazelnuts and pickled turnips. The Colorado bison tartare ($15) is a beautifully-plated mess of finely-cubed bison, apple, olives, egg yolk and crunchy bread. The spring chicken ($22) comes with wild mushrooms, herbs and a delicate chicken jus.
Sunday Vinyl is a delight to all the senses. The place manages to find extravagance in its finesse, creating yet another offshoot that vividly confirms the breadth of Frasca, Inc.’s vision.
Sunday Vinyl officially opens on Sunday, December 22. It is located at 1803 16th St. Mall, Denver. It will be open Sunday – Thursday 4 p.m. – 12 a.m., and Friday and Saturday 4 p.m. – 1 a.m. A late-night happy hour will be available every day from 9 p.m. – close.
All photography by Kori Hazel.