On a side street in the buzzed-about RiNo Arts District northeast of downtown Denver is Nocturne, a jazz venue and supper club with one foot in the 1940s and the other squarely in the 21st century.
It’s a throwback, sure, but one with a decidedly modern sensibility from proprietors Scott and Nicole Mattson.
A longtime jazz drummer, Scott introduced Nicole to the genre after they met at the mall when they were attending high school in west metro Denver. “He got me into jazz pretty young,” she jokes.
It follows that there’s live jazz nightly at Nocturne. The largely farm-to-table menu changes regularly and finds inspiration from a different classic jazz album every time. The space, a 1920s-era warehouse, is equal parts brick and chic, with a mezzanine above the stage and main dining area that works well for groups.
Nicole and Scott married in 2001 and subsequently went into hospitality. Before Nocturne, he worked for a luxury vacation home company in Vail while she managed an upscale hotel in Beaver Creek.
Then entrepreneurial inspiration struck in the form of Justin Bieber backlash. “We were lamenting the Bieberization of America over a glass of wine one night,” explains Nicole. Instead, they decided to showcase “classic American culture.”
In 2010, the Mattsons descended to Denver with the idea for Nocturne in mind. Nicole got an MBA and Scott became a certified sommelier. Then they built their dream club with “a lot of blood, sweat, and tears,” he says, and the financial help of friends and family, a crowdfunding campaign, and bank loan.
Nocturne—meaning night song—opened in March 2015. It now serves dinner five nights a week and is available for rentals and special events with a capacity of 140 people standing or 75 seated.
“We’ve had a lot of success with people who want to do an early happy hour event,” says Nicole. “It’s great, because the stage is already there if you’re going to have a guest speaker.”
But it’s good for meetings for reasons beyond the layout. “A jazz club is so community- oriented,” she says. “You have to shake hands with your neighbors.”
It’s the culmination of a five-year journey for the Mattsons, and they are now living their dream. “We really wanted to bring this to our town,” says Scott. “It’s a place where you can go to be an adult.”