The bar above Old Venice Pizza gets one heck of a makeover

Published 6:02 am Sunday, September 11, 2016

With smoking banned in restaurants and bars and the martini fad slowing down, the Burgundy Room bar above Old Venice Pizza found itself without a real identity.

“It was just a burgundy-colored room,” said owner Jim Bulian. “It was meant to be a cigar and martini bar, but things changed so we decided we needed to change.”

Now called The Summit Lodge, the bar has been transformed into what someone might find while vacationing in Aspen.

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“If you can envision being at a five-star hotel that has a bar, that’s what we aimed for,” Bulian said.

When walking up the steps to The Summit, the first thing customers see is a 35-foot wall covered in actual spruce tree trunks. Faux taxidermy hangs on the walls. Inside, a large white oak stands in the room.

“It was one of the fallen trees from the Grove,” Bulian said.

There’s a fireplace, albeit void of an actual fire.

“We didn’t think live fire was a good idea,” Bulian said. “We’ll probably get a large, flat screen TV and play one of those DVDs that has a continuous fire burning.”

The bar has also expanded its whiskey collection.

“Where Burgundy Room was more about martinis, The Summit will be more like a whiskey bar,” Bulian said.

The house vodka is Artist Vodka, organic vodka made with organic Ferrari wheat imported from Italy.

Bulian said he and his business partner, David Buescher, talked about how to upgrade the former Burgundy Room.

“We talked about fixing this and fixing that, and then we decided, why not just do something completely new in Oxford,” Bulian said.

An artist, Bulian spends a good bit of time in the Sierra Mountains in California.

“I drew a lot of inspiration from there,” he said. “We don’t have mountains in Oxford, so we’re bringing the mountains to Oxford.”

The two brought in designer Beth McKey and contractor Bruce Massey to transform the bar.

Bulian also owns Old Venice Pizza below the Summit and the super-secret speakeasy bar and restaurant known by most as the “downstairs bar.” Bulian said he is sworn to secrecy to reveal the location of the popular late-night spot that has grown by word-of-mouth and is best known for its grilled cheese sandwiches.

The Summit Lodge Bar opens at 3 p.m.

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