Bar Exam: Owner helping to transform Ogden's 25th Street
It's a real head-scratcher in conservative Utah when a city mayor and a religious teetotaler, who happens to be a state legislator, go to bat for someone requesting a liquor license for a new bar.
Then again, that someone was Jared Allen, a youngish real-estate investor who has gained a stellar reputation as someone who is giving more than lip service or a mere spit-shine to some of Ogden's more blighted areas.
Oh, and this isn't any ordinary location for a bar. It is housed in what was a notorious brothel back in the '50s.
It's no wonder, then, that Alleged on historic 25th Street appears poised to become one of Ogden's most popular watering holes.
Without even a sign in place after two weeks of a "soft" opening, dozens of people were already finding their way on a recent Saturday night to what Allen, 35, calls Alleged's 2,700-square-foot "festive industrial" interior and the unparalleled views from its spacious 2,200-square-foot rooftop.
For tables, Allen converted the brothel's old doors. He added comfy black couches and gray metal stools for seating. Generous accents of exposed brick bring warm colors into the room.
Allen also designed a unique hand-crank cage that at night locks down a full line of hard liquor. Several tappers include local beers and brew from Rooster's just up the street. Until a restaurant moves in downstairs, Alleged offers hummus and pita bread, chips and guacamole or a phone call to Lucky Slice across the street for pizza delivery to the bar.
Names of brothel employees are etched in glass over the eight unisex bathroom stalls around the corner from six communal sinks. The working women of the former Rose Rooms Brothel also have drinks named after them. So do notable figures in Ogden's nightlife history; for example, a blend of Baileys, Kahlua, Disaronno Amaretto, iced coffee and raspberries is named for Anna-Belle Weakley, longtime nightclub owner and "The Queen of 25th St.," described in the menu as a person whose "charitable and selfless spirit is still spoken of" in Ogden.
Allen (who is also a licensed real-estate broker) and his mother, Julie Allen, in 2011 purchased 20,000 square feet of space in two buildings that were weary-looking and in foreclosure near Union Station at the bottom of 25th Street, not far from where Allen lives with his wife and two children.
In a city long known for dive bars and vacant buildings, its pearl in historic 25th Street is now home to about a dozen destination restaurants, which pair well with a more upscale feel to Alleged.
"Ogden has got a bad reputation, and we're trying to fix that," Allen said
Not only has Allen, with help from his mother and siblings, taken over the buildings, he has also pledged (even on Alleged's website) to reinvest for the foreseeable future Alleged's proceeds after expenses back into restoring downtown Ogden.
Alleged, Allen's first big venture downtown, was making believers out of some people before it ever opened earlier in May.
"I love it," said Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell. "It encourages a great social atmosphere."
Caldwell spoke up on Allen's behalf at an April meeting of the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which he said isn't something he would have done for just anyone. "But Jared has been so involved in Ogden," Caldwell said.
Rep. Jeremy Peterson, R-Ogden, described Allen as "daring" and a "risk taker," which Peterson added fits right in with one of the bar owner's other roles as professional skier, sometimes jumping from cliffs over 100 feet into powder below.
Peterson, who sits on an appropriations committee that funds the DABC, wrote a letter to the division in December. He also attended the same DABC meeting Caldwell attended, but he did not speak.
After a third meeting with the DABC, Allen learned he had been granted a liquor license ahead of others who had been waiting longer.
Allen has his fan base, and Alleged's is growing.
Mandi Lipka of West Jordan is a repeat customer.
"It's a fun, chill atmosphere, but it's still kind of modern-looking," she said while sitting beside two friends. "I love the rooftop. â¦ It's beautiful. We always go up to watch the sun set. â¦ They made it comfortable."
Head bartender Mike McAuliffe loves working there, sold right away on Allen's commitment to keep reinvesting in downtown as Alleged's popularity blossoms.
"I see this place blowing up," McAuliffe said. "I see this place kind of setting a standard as far as a classy establishment. â¦ I think these guys are going to raise the level of expectations in this town."
Correction: Longtime Ogden nightclub owner Anna-Belle Weakley was misidentified in an earlier version of this story. The error has been corrected.
A brand new bar in a renovated historic Ogden building with a large rooftop and separate bar, with plans to feature live music.
Where • 205 25th Street and 2506 Lincoln, Ogden; 801-990-0692 or http://www.alleged25th.com
When • Open Thursday-Saturday, 8 p.m.â2 a.m.