Lady Nomada brings some serious beach vibes to Olde Town Arvada
We have all experienced the quality of transporting food. A bite of donut and here we are again under the green awning of the Café du Monde. One whiff of grilled cheese and we’re back in fourth grade, hanging out in the cafeteria line.
But the atmospheres in which we taste good food can also make us travel. If they didn’t, Peter Newlin would have a very different job. As Vision Director of the Gastamo Group, he brings good humor to restaurants in Denver including Park Burger, Birdcall and Perdida, whose cool coastal style is featured in our October / November 2021 issue.
Newlin’s latest vision, for restaurant Lady Nomada, which debuted last summer, takes diners on the most trippy journey of all, from the charming streets of Olde Town Arvada to a retro beach bar on a windswept part of the Mexican coast. “When the patio doors are open and you peek inside, you see the velvet chairs and the leather bench seat and that surf-inspired mural and you’re like, ‘What is it? what is this place? “, Newlin said.
What it is: a taqueria and bar serving casual Baja-inspired fare from chef Philippe Failyau (think: tiki drinks, carne asada fries, and two-tiered tacos stuffed with grilled shrimp with arbol honey ), and one of the best plays in the area venues, featuring a McIntosh MT5 turntable for classic vinyl and a stage for live shows. “Like Perdida, Lady Nomada follows a similar scenario, this idea of being lost in Central America,” Newlin explains. “But our goal was to put an extra layer on the story, so Lady Nomada was really inspired by the music.”
The restaurant, designed in collaboration with architectural firm Michel Hsu of Austin, Texas, is also a study of textures, colors and shapes that instantly transport diners to the seaside. “At Perdida, we were so focused on architecture; big moves like sliding glass and steel doors, ”says Newlin. “Here, we don’t own the space, so we thought, ‘Let’s leave the old damaged windows and invest everything in textures.’ “
The old building, “which has been a music venue for as long as we can remember,” Newlin says, had big bones for a beach hut aesthetic, battered wood floors, and exposed beams. to the original brick walls, the design of which the team decided to whitewash. “It was the scariest moment when they started painting the walls because there was no turning back,” Newlin says. “You can’t sand a hundred-year-old brick. “
The light color provided a new canvas for local artist Lindee Zimmer, who painted custom surf-inspired murals directly onto brick. A work still in progress will be surmounted by LED tube lighting in the shape of a giant wave. “I hate to say it was meant to be an Instagram moment, but it kind of was,” Newlin says. “Interactive art is fun.”
The graphic vibe of the 1970s – “and those cool stripes you might see on an old VW bus,” Newlin says – inspired details like the bar’s rainbow mural, which stands behind a row of stools bars upholstered in cowhide from local furniture maker DoubleButter. Basket-style drum pendants hang above the head. “Everywhere you go in Mexico, you see a different basket-inspired chandelier,” Newlin says. “We looked for a version a little more designer than the traditional versions which seem to have been woven directly on the beach.
On the opposite wall, complementary basket pendants illuminate another bench, this one covered in a classic Pendleton pattern. “Pendleton has a range of upholstery fabrics, but the orders were so old that we decided to use the real blankets instead,” Newlin explains. Faux cacti made by a Boulder craftsman line the back wall. “We worked really hard to make them real,” Newlin says – and they succeeded. “You’re almost afraid to touch them!” ” he’s laughing.
Newlin partnered with audio experts at Denver-based ListenUp to create Lady Nomada’s stellar audio system, which includes several vintage Bowers & Wilkins speakers. “My grandfather had a B&W set in his living room, so it’s a little tribute to him; it’s a tchotchke that actually works, ”says Newlin. But many of the restaurant’s catchier speakers haven’t worked in years. Group Construction Manager Gastamo traveled around Denver and salvaged nearly 200 old speakers that now make up the back wall of the restaurant. “We really wanted to have that vintage look; a little more grain in the design, ”says Newlin. “As with Perdida, every detail has its own story, but here the story is really brought to life by the music.