Marc and Eric Fortney went all out during construction of their first free-standing restaurant. On Oct. 10, they opened the doors to the It’s Brothers Bar & Grill in Lone Tree, the 17th restaurant in the family-owned chain.
“We pulled out all the stops,” Marc Fortney said. “A lot of planning went into this.”
Though the two-story, sports-themed restaurant opened during football season, its setup is strongly skewed toward summer. Ground- and upper-level patios illuminated by strung lights are dotted with standing heaters, and a large outdoor fireplace anchors the main-floor outdoor area. Four bocce courts open for free play flank the building’s north side.
The outdoor emphasis not only expands the restaurant’s 400-plus seating capacity, it’s a visual lure to passersby on Quebec Street.
The site formerly was home to the Claim Jumper, a restaurant known for its oversized portions that closed in late 2010. Marc Fortney, the extroverted face of the company, said he first considered renovating the original space.
“I thought it was a spectacular building for a country-western bar,” he said. “It would have cost more to retrofit than to build.”
It’s Brothers is designed as a restaurant, sports bar and nightclub.
“We want to be a sports bar, but we also want to be more than that,” Marc Fortney said.
“As the night goes on, you’re going to hear the music ramp up. If people want to shake a little bit, we’ve got a dance floor.”
Wisconsin natives Marc and Eric Fortney opened their first bar in the college town of LaCrosse, Wis. in 1990. Marc Fortney points to their self-employed parents as the source of their entrepreneurial spirit, but said the brothers knew their age could be a hindrance. At the time of that first opening, the two were 26 and 23.
“When we looked at this first bar in LaCrosse, we knew we needed credibility in the marketplace because we were so young,” Marc Fortney said.
His parents suggested not only the name “Brothers,” but added “Est. 1967” to the moniker. It’s not the year the company started, but the year Eric Fortney was born and the lifelong partnership began.
Marc Fortney takes pride in the company’s scratch kitchens and a menu designed to change with the seasons.
Guests at the restaurant’s grand opening gave the city’s newest restaurant positive reviews.
“I think it’s amazing,” said Lone Tree resident Michelle Murphy. “It’s exactly what we needed here. You can bring your family here during the day and come back with your friends evenings and weekends.”
“This is my new place,” said Lone Tree resident Ray Russell.
Marc Fortney sees the proximity of LoDo’s, across Quebec Street, as more boon than threat.
“Car lots put themselves right next to each other to give people options,” he said. “We want to provide more options.”