Surfside 7: The Smallest, Most Intimate Venue in Town

By: Hap Fry

Juli Bruntz is in a unique position to offer perspective on the music venues located in Fort Collins.

Not only does Bruntz work at the biggest venue in town – The Aggie Theatre – she also works the smallest venue in town – Surfside 7.
Don’t ask the bartender extraordinaire which one she prefers. They both are near and dear to her, but there definitely is something to be said about the atmosphere that comes with the Surfside 7, which first opened its doors in 1999.
“There’s definitely a big difference between the two,” Bruntz said. “It’s just so intimate here. You really get to know the artists a little bit better, especially the local artists. I really like the intimacy, and we get some acts that are probably too big to play here.”

Case in point of that is most likely set to come on February 2 when Slim Cessna’s Auto Club will make an appearance inside Fort Collins’ tiniest venue with capacities of 49 inside and 50 outside.

That said, Jon Snodgrass, who co-owns Surfside 7 with his wife Kim, likes the element of surprise and has been known to bring in various well-known acts and performers at random times. Consider it part of the charm and lore of Surfside 7.
“I have a lot of friends who play here that should play at much bigger places,” Jon Snodgrass said. “We’re pretty fortunate. Frank Turner’s played here, and he’s going to play here again. I mean, he just played the opening ceremony of the Olympics and sold out Wembley (Stadium). There’s a lot of times when you just happen to show up that there are little surprise sessions. You know, we like that. It’s pretty awesome.”

Most Surfside 7 gigs occur during the weekdays. This sort of scheduling accomplishes a couple of things according to co-bar manager Marlena Niforos.

“People don’t really like paying covers on the weekend, and it works well in the week,” Niforos said. “It gives people something to do on the so-called off nights,”
While Surfside 7 may best be known for its raucous shows that feature a heavy dose of punk and heavy metal, the venue’s food – specifically its New York style pizza isn’t far behind thanks to kitchen manager Nick Halm.
“We’ve always thought that having a bar where you can get food late at night is a good thing,” Jon Snodgrass said. “The pizza’s good. We’re really proud of it, and we take pride in it.”

Because of Surfside 7’s size, Jon and Kim Snodgrass are limited to what they can do as far as additions go. But the couple did recently build a nice and functional back deck and foresee some gigs being played out back when it gets warmer.
“It’s been a work in progress, but we’re going to do things properly,” Jon Snodgrass said. “I want that back patio to be super-awesome. I want it to be a like tiny version of Stubb’s (BBQ) in Austin. It’s going to take a while.”
People feel right at home when they walk through the doors at Surfside 7.
“We’re kind of different,” Niforos said. “We’ve got this intimate experience here. We’re probably friends with more than half of our customers. People get comfortable here, and they don’t leave for years. It’s pretty cool.”

For more information about Surfside 7, visit surfsideseven.com.

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