Ever since Batch Provisions vacated 358 Main Street nearly a year ago, its absence has been felt — especially on a First Friday. Thankfully for Carbondale, the building’s new owner, Mike Arnold, set out to revitalize the space with a similar feeling, albeit revamped.
Officially open as of Thursday, Aug. 17 (with murmurs of an “81623” celebration the day before), the freshly-painted gold door beckons anyone and everyone into what Arnold described as “a 1920s bohemian, funky psychedelic, western lounge.”
Arnold also owns the neighboring space currently leased to Brass Anvil and decided to purchase 358 Main Street largely to “recreate the vibe that was lost with Batch,” he said. “This will not be run solely for the bottomline. … Of course we’d like to make some money, but at the same time, we want to give to Carbondale.” Arnold is committed to the community that he now calls home, where he’s raising his kids, and wishes to contribute in a meaningful way.
He even hired Chase Engel and Aly Sanguily, owners of Batch, as consultants for dialing in the new concept. “They ran such a successful business here,” Arnold explained. “And they’ve had a lot of fun, I think, in helping us carry that legacy forward.”
Initially renovated into a bar by Engel and Sanguily in 2017, the decorative elements have been substantially redone, with no detail overlooked. Every ornament was thoughtfully chosen and even the books on a shelf carry the theme, as well as a carefully curated playlist sounding over the speakers. “We want the music to match the aesthetic. Moody, surf rock, punk rock, psychedelic sounds from Africa. When you come in here, you’re not going to hear the Steve Miller Band,” Arnold said. The playlist will be frequently updated and is considered an important part of the experience.
“We went way down a wormhole with El Dorado,” he continued. “Who he supposedly was, what the city supposedly was. And then we started tying that together with poems from Robert Frost and poems from Edgar Allan Poe.” Several key phrases emerged, including “Stay gold” from a Frost poem and famously quoted in “The Outsiders” film.
“Everybody that’s touched this place lives here,” Arnold said. From artists Brian Colley and Lindsay Jones to houseplant connoisseur Leslie Buettner, El Dorado was imbued with as much local participation as possible. “We need all the cactus,” Buettner was told.
Colley’s wall remains notably empty with an October unveiling planned for a massive, three-dimensional commission. Dave Kodama is turning Jones’ logo design into an etched wood sign for out front. Cate Tallmadge of Main Street Gallery framed other art. Mark Burrows with Pollinator Chocolate is supplying espresso beans and chocolate (of course). Bldg Seed Architects helped rework the interior with the expertise of Leila Schwyhart.
Behind the bar, Ben Simonette and Jess Clutter, fresh from Emerald Island in North Carolina, are enthusiastically getting to know the community. “We’re beyond excited to be here,” said Simonette. “Our whole goal is to foster that community that Batch built.”
El Dorado seeks to remain inclusive with drinks in the $5-$8 range, as well as higher-end cocktails ($11-$16) and fine bottles of wine. Specialty non-alcoholic mocktails have also been a priority. As for the food, El Dorado will serve locally-made, Argentine-style empanadas, as well as Spanish charcuterie boards.
After several soft openings to warm the space up and iron out the kinks, Arnold and his team are ready to welcome everyone in, and anticipate the space will continue to define itself.
“It’s not a stagnant thing, it’s an evolving thing,” said Ramsey Fulton, principal and design architect at Bldg Seed Architects. “The more people got involved, the more the influence matured and became better, and became more a part of the soul of the project and soul of the community.” He added, “It’s just going to keep growing.”
“We’re going to know a lot in 30 days,” Arnold concurred.
El Dorado is now open, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 10pm and Fridays and Saturdays from 4pm to midnight. You can follow the business on Instagram at #eldoradostaygold