Casa Trades Avalon Bar's Punk Past For An Upscale Speakeasy

Categories: bars

Thumbnail image for casapic1.jpg
Heidi Darby
Roland Barrera (left) and Marty Kish (far right) at Casa with one of their new bartenders
From the moment you step inside Casa, your eye naturally scans the new dimly lit surroundings searching for any hint of Avalon Bar--the legendary punk rock dive that inhabited the space up until last July. But 20 bucks says no matter how many years you spent ordering brown bag specials at the bar or moshing to scrappy garage bands, the first time you look around, it'll be as if you've stumbled in for the very first time. And that's exactly the way new owners Roland Barrera and Marty Kish want it.

Thanks to their vision to turn the longtime local landmark into a posh, laid back speakeasy, the quest to begin a new chapter in the bar's history has officially begun--to the celebration and chagrin of many who have a strong opinion about the change. Of course, like any new business, all that really matters is that people are talking about it.

The bar's makeover has actually spent a long time in the making. Barrera, a former pro snowboarder, met Kish over a decade ago. Years later, he spent time with Kish in Anglet, France, and became enamored with Baroque architecture. Barrera's background in design and nightlife coupled with his overseas inspiration helped form the concept of Casa, which blends a French and Spanish inspired interior with a 1930's speakeasy attitude.

"I wanted it to feel like you were in a speakeasy in New York," says Barrera. "Or like you were in someone's rich grandfather's chateau, who happened to leave and give you the keys for the weekend." It's quite different from the Avalon days, which was more like a grandpa letting you borrow his storage warehouse to throw an indoor kegger.

Embossed black walls, crown molding, wrought iron barstools and soft lighting create an authentic throwback atmosphere. But don't expect to just walk through the door unannounced and check out the newly refurbished bar, the Casa team takes exclusivity very seriously. In true speakeasy fashion, patrons gain entrance by obtaining a nightly password. The password is handed down by word of mouth or by visiting Casa's bare-boned website.

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