“They were in a house downtown, and my places are a mile or so away so I really didn’t see them around,” Morreale told Pollstar. “But one day they came in for dinner at Mezcal (the restaurant he opened shortly after leaving NIPP) and the next night they showed up at the RockBar – we had been open literally for only 48 hours.”

Morreale opened the RockBar, originally the restaurant/bar area of a Denver hotel he’d bought in a foreclosure, August 25. He’s retained the ’70s theme, original to the venue’s apparent last incarnation as a nightspot: New Year’s Eve 1979.

“I was getting it out of foreclosure, so there wasn’t a real inspection of the property. It’s near Mezcal and it was the location I liked.”

A city councilwoman told him there was an old bar and restaurant in the building, one she remembered from another time.

“When I finally got in there, I found it was massive,” Morreale said. “Two kitchens, a lounge and dance areas are about 6,000 square feet. But it was like a time capsule – it was absolutely perfect.

“The light fixtures were there, the wallpaper was intact, the carpet, the dance floor and the bar was still there. So I ended up deciding to keep it and it’s really been awesome. It’s nostalgic in a way that a retro place isn’t, because if you build something now to look like the ’70s, you can tell that it’s a little bit contrived. But this is the real thing! It’s a total trip.”

RockBar is Morreale’s third restaurant venture in as many years: Mezcal, which has won various awards for its food and margaritas, was followed by the opening of a wine bar and now RockBar with 40 booths, each sporting its own rock ‘n’ roll theme. And before opening the restaurants, Morreale was a partner in LaRumba, a popular Denver dance club.

Morreale attributes his success in the notoriously fickle restaurant business to his success in the even more notoriously difficult world of concert promotion.

“Nothing’s harder than concerts,” he said. “What I realized, after focusing on the club and then getting Mezcal open, is that there really isn’t that much difference between doing concerts or having a nightclub or doing a restaurant.

“It’s about promotions and managing a venue. The only difference between the restaurants and the club and concerts is I’m promoting the same thing consistently, trying to figure out new ways to do it and keep the promotions fresh. With concerts, it was trying to figure out the marketing campaign for a different, specific thing each time,” Morreale said.

“It’s all promotions, marketing and managing people, costs, and labor.”

The concert vet has found he can’t completely walk away from the music biz, though. He still has a hand in arranging showcases for developing artists, pre- and post-show parties at his restaurants, and regularly brings in guest DJs at LaRumba and RockBar.

“We’ve had a lot of people come in to DJ. Carlos D from Interpol has done the last two New Year’s Eves in a row. Marky Ramone‘s coming. So is Ian McCulloch from Echo & The Bunnymen.

“So it’s become a way for me to keep booking things without it becoming too big of a hassle.”