Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox is the latest business venture to occupy one of Denver’s historic landmarks, the Victorian style Airedale Building. Owner Justin Cucci incorporates the building’s nefarious history into the decor and atmosphere, creating a unique dining experience.
Cucci successfully runs other local food businesses such as RootDown and Linger. He has made a name for himself repurposing unorthodox locations into niche dining experiences and Ophelia’s is no different.
Denverites might remember the building’s risque past. Once allegedly used as a brothel and later known as Diamond Lil’s Adult Emporium. At Ophelia’s, the space feels like a culmination of all its former selves.
A vintage view master is used for a sneak peek at the history of Ophelia’s. It reads, “Guests engage in a feast of pleasures, where all senses are stimulated and the lines between restaurant, bar and live entertainment are blurred.”
The environment is provocative and intimate with a brazen emphasis on sexuality. Nude photographs and posters of boudoir style women are displayed throughout the newly remodeled building.
Artist Lolita Mendoza has visited the venue several times, not only performing on the stage but dining as well. One of the reasons she likes playing at Ophelia’s is their appreciation of the female body.
Mendoza believes that people’s perception of a woman’s body has been damaged. “I like the idea of images like this being out in the open for things to be discussed,” Mendoza said.
Visitors are escorted through the dimly lit dining area where vintage, pleated leather seats await use. The booths are conveniently closed off and softly lit, intensifying the intimacy that the restaurant exudes.
The restaurant embraces its sexy background and houses other vintage items from various decades as decor. Upon walking into the bar, pinball art is displayed under glass. The bathroom stalls are built with vintage yardsticks and downstairs the structure of the bar is composed of 4,000 Jager bottles that were left behind from the previous owner.
There is a wall covered with a multitude of transmitter radios and 8-tracks, that is a signature element that Cucci adds to all of his restaurants. Through the collected items, Ophelia’s gives off a nostalgic vibe.“The culture here is really diverse,” staff member Aundre White said. “A couple of bands that have played here are from all different cultures.”
Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox has transformed dining into an experience that allows guests to travel back in time. The environment is sexy, provocative, intimate, lively and energetic,while embracing its historic background.