A new bar where you can make crafts while you sip is coming to town. Called Upstairs Circus, it's a Denver-based bar-meets-shop-class concept opening its first outlet in Dallas, in Deep Ellum.
Upstairs Circus is a "maker" spot where you and your besties go to make jewelry, art, woodworking, and leather items, while simultaneously drinking cocktails, beer, or wine — like concepts already in Dallas such as Pinot's Palette and Painting With a Twist.
Upstairs takes it next level, stopping not just at paints, but adding crafts such as leather- and wood-working. Hip music, a nice sound system, and a full bar with cocktails, beer, and wine make it even more bar-like.
Matt and Kelly Johannsen founded the concept, opening their first location in Denver in 2013. They began their expansion outside Denver in 2017 when they opened a location in Minneapolis. A fourth location opened in Austin in 2018.
A representative from the company confirms that Dallas is their next location.
"We already have a location in Austin, and the founders have some ties to Texas," she says. "Dallas has always been on the list of top places to expand, and this will be a true owner location and not a franchise."
The couple has stated that they prefer urban and inner-city locations, and Dallas' location will fit the mold. It's at 2810 Main St., at the intersection of Crowdus Street, in a vintage storefront built in 1926 that was once a brakes supply store, but has been vacant since 2012.
Kelly says that they see the neighborhood as a perfect match for what they do.
"Deep Ellum has a spirit of creativity and individuality about it; it embraces art, music and culture and does it in a gritty way that you really have to experience to begin to understand," she says. "We like to think of Upstairs Circus in much the same way, we are an experience driven-company. Our mission is to inspire ingenuity and empower creative experimentation and we do it in a way that is a bit gritty, gets your hands get dirty and entertains you all at the same time."
She says they'll make the most of what the location has to offer. "Our Deep Ellum location will come back to the feel of our original store, which has a gritty feel and is built in a historic building," she says.
Upstairs Circus doesn't hold traditional-style classes, but instead hosts "socials" — events in which people can come in, socialize, and make projects.
"Patrons can create their masterpiece while mingling with their friends or other patrons, enjoying cocktails, and jamming out," Kelly says. "We are a great place to visit for anyone looking for entertainment or an activity: simply to have a night out, celebrate a birthday, to team build and more."
Projects you can make include jewelry, personal items, art objects, and items for the home.
That could be bracelets, leather koozies, pet collars, decorative coasters, wallets, keychains, magnetic shelves, butcher boards, serving trays, nail-and-string paintings, and stamped charms.
Crafters have to be 18 or over, or else have a waiver signed by a guardian.
As for food and beverage, their cocktail list includes a spicy margarita, skinny pina colada, cosmo, a mule made with Deep Eddy Grapefruit, a Campari spritz, and a Tanqueray gin drink with lavender, lemon, and bubbles.
There is also beer and wine by the bottle or glass.
Food options vary by location. Some allow patrons to bring in snacks, others offer grub on-site. Mixed nuts are $3.50 and there's truffle popcorn for free.
"This location will also feature Dallas-themed DIY projects and feature a bar menu curated specifically for the Deep Ellum location," Kelly says.
They're currently seeking a mixed beverage permit from the state and working through City Hall permits, with a goal to open by November.