Introducing Syntax Physic Opera, a venue and restaurant with an interesting theme
Jonathan Bitz says the process of opening Syntax Physic Opera has been heavy, it's been emotional and it's been by far the hardest thing he's ever done. He was hoping to have his music venue and eatery at 554 South Broadway (which most recently housed the Bar and the Atrium) open late last year, but after enduring some construction delays and permitting issues, he says the spot should open this weekend if he gets the green light from the City.
Jon Solomon Syntax Physic Opera will open this weekend at 554 South Broadway Jon Solomon The venue side of Syntax Physic Opera
For Bitz, who has run Syntax magazine for a decade and did a five year-stint as a talent buyer at the Meadowlark, getting to this point of finally opening his own venue started about three years ago. He and his wife, Joy, looked at properties in areas like the Santa Fe Arts District and RiNo. But when he found out the Bar was closing in May of last year, Bitz thought the space was ideal for his vision: the space already had a bar on one side and a venue on the other.
While Bitz thought construction would have been completed in November, physical renovations on the building have stalled over the last three months as he works through permitting issues. "That's been hard, but it's a huge blessing in that we'd refined everything," Bitz says. "We've really been able to refine the food menus. And the cocktail menus are hitting on something...drinks that had medicinal elements in them. It's a play on the old nostrums that they had at the medicine shows."
As far as entertainment goes, Bitz is all for diversifying. Early plans include opera early on Saturdays, a comedy open mic night on Wednesdays and a songwriters open mic on Tuesdays (hosted by Rachael Pollard and Anthony Ruptak). He envisions a place where artists could "work their material, and hopefully sit in a room with their peers and have that synergy," he says. "If we created that, even for a little while, I would feel like we did something really good here.
"I want this all to point toward stories," he adds, "from the back of the house with the food to the cocktails to the service, which we have put a big emphasis on. I want that to help create the stories in the same way that we're going do with the songwriters open mic. One of the requirements is going to be during everybody's set that they have to introduce and tell a story about one of their songs. Tell me why did you write this. What's the story here? I want stories. I like that."
After securing the lease on the building in August of last year, Bitz starting getting down to business, hoping it might open in November. But physical renovations on the building stalled for about three months as he worked through permitting issues.
"I'm incredibly lucky to have this chance to build something like this," Bitz says. "My father, my partner, gave me this chance because he saw the numbers and he believes in what's been created with Syntax. We've spent a lot of time and energy conceptualizing it and now we're implementing it -- just a lot slower than we all wanted."