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Dive Bar Grand Opening

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On Wednesday night, Dive Bar held its grand opening.
The "New K Street" has been covered ad nauseum here and (and here and here and here. . . .) and elsewhere.

George Karpaty's new "entertainment complex" is big news, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, so I put on my press hat, my dance pants and my shiniest shirt and headed over.

The block was already bumping when I arrived a little before 8 p.m. I went to Dive Bar first, but my contact was nowhere to be found, the mermaids had yet to arrive and the bar was seatless. I decided to to take my leave and begin my night with a beer at the pizza "joint" next door.

Pizza Rock was bustling. The huge dining room was close to packed, and a handful of people were gathered by the host desk awaiting their tables.  There were, however, a couple open seats at the long curved bar. I chose one directly underneath the grill of the Peterbilt DJ booth and made myself comfortable.

I am pleased to report that they have 24 oz PBR tallboys (In Wisconsin they call em silos!) for the relatively reasonable price of $4 apiece. Well, $4.40 with tax. Look, I ended up paying $11 for two of em with tip. Like I said, relatively.

I spent a little over an hour at Pizza Rock, taking in the scene and the end of the Kings overtime loss to the Trail Blazers. Some impressions:

– The truck/DJ booth and Sistine Chapel-esque ceiling art are as gaudy, cartoonish and over-the-top ridiculous as they sound. The room is like an Ed Hardy wet dream, which makes sense, seeing as chef Tony Gemignani teamed up with the ubiquitous graphic designer on a line of Ed Hardy pizza boxes. Seriously.  That being said, the space is huge, open and comfortable in spite of itself.

– The food looks and smells terrific. (My girlfriend is currently doing a 21-day yoga cleanse, and as a show of solidarity, I am trying to follow her mostly vegetable diet. Except when Korean tacos are involved). The chef became the first American to win The World Pizza Cup competition in Naples, Italy, in 2007. The White anchovy and prosciutto de Pomodorini pizzas were eaten on either side of me, and they both looked outstanding getting rave reviews from their owners. Manny, a recent transplant from Hoboken, described the latter as an "off-the-hook Jersey-style pizza."  The meatballs also looked phenomenal. These 21 days can't end soon enough.

– Mayor Kevin Johnson was in the building, and he gave the pizza a thumbs-up.

– In accordance with the name of the place, the music was kind of awesome. Skynyrd, Beastie Boys, Whitesnake, Bon Jovi, Nirvana, Faith No More, 311, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Dynamite Hack . . . They were all over the map, and I had several, "Hey, this song!" moments. Good stuff.

– A fellow next to me ordered a Malibu and pineapple for his lady friend, and after receiving the drink he asked the bartender to add a little more Malibu, and the barkeep gladly did so. A nice sign.

After the Kings game ended (badly), I headed back over to Dive Bar. Some impressions:

– Mermaids. They are there, swimming around, and it's kind of awesome.

– How awesome will it be six months from now?

– They turned away a few people who were under-dressed. Don't let the name fool you, this Dive Bar has a dress code.

– I think this spot, more than the other two, will have to find its identity. It's not really a lounge, not really a dance club, certainly not a dive bar. Dance music, mermaids, TVs with sports playing, patterned carpeting, no food, bottle service, $300 "booths" that are just couches against the wall.

– Someone offered that it is just a place to go for the people who can't get in to District 30.

– This proved prophetic, as it filled up as soon as a huge line of people who had been waiting to get into D30 were turned way, with apologies and passes to return at a later date.

– They should have called it "Overflow."

– It opens at noon, but doesn't serve food. We'll see how long that lasts.

After being rebuked in my initial attempt to gain entry to District 30, I was able to sneak in on my way out. (Not really, I got to speaking with the manager, who let me in on the caveat that I not take any pictures). A few very brief observations:

– The floor around the main dance floor is kind of bouncy.   

– This will succeed. George Karpaty knows his nightclubs. It's everything you might expect from the guy behind Ruby Skye: clean, slick, cool, great sound, comfortable booths, full of beautiful people and at least one professional athlete.

All in all, the “New K Street” left a pretty good first impression. Karpaty knows night clubs, and Gemignani knows pizzas. I've got every confidence in Pizza Rock and District 30 being successes. As long as that happens, Overflow should be fine, too. 

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