Playground: A New Nightclub Planned by HUB Owner

August 29, 2011

By Teya Vitu

Kade Mislinski's Playground nightclub will also have a rooftop bar

Kade Mislinski’s mind races a mile a minute, always updating his visions for HUB Restaurant & Ice Creamery, updating his board inscribed with future business concepts, and evolving his latest proposed update to the Downtown landscape.

Interviewing Mislinksi doesn’t really have to involve questions. He routinely launches into a spoken stream of thought, on this occasion, about his planned nightclub for the corner of Congress and Fifth Avenue.

The other thing you quickly learn about Mislinski is he’s a sucker for a touch of whimsy. Take, for example, the nightclub taking shape in his mind. He’s calling it Playground.

“There’s a brand of fun that Downtown is going to achieve,” he said. “It’s in the name. Play with your friends at the Playground. We learned to be adults on the playground. It’s your first kiss, your first black eye. There’s a lot of human development on the playground.”

Expect to find swings as wall décor, tetherball poles out back, a kissing tunnel on the back patio, and the whimsical Mislinski is tempted to have hopscotch squares on the way to the restroom.

“Recess will be happy hour from 4 to 8,” he said.

Playground may be ready for recess toward the end of the year.

Playground is slated for part of the space where there were initial talks two years back for an An Congress sports bar, but that never got beyond initial talks and K.C. An ended up at Casino Del Sol.

Six weeks back, toward the end of June, building owner Scott Stiteler stopped by HUB, where he’s also landlord, on his monthly visit to Tucson from his San Francisco base.

“He just came in one day and asked ‘what would you do in there?’” Mislinski recalled. “Obviously, I have 10 concepts in my head. There’s a dumpling bar I want to do. There’s a Mediterranean place I want to do. They are on my board. I said ‘hey, I want to do a nightclub.’ I started to work with Miguel again.”

That would be Miguel Fuentevilla and Sonya Sotinsky, the husband-and-wife team behind FORS Architecture+Interiors. They designed the interiors for Mislinski’s HUB, were signed on for the aborted An Congress, applied their design storytelling to Janos Wilder’s DOWNTOWN Kitchen + Drink, and are right now busy with Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink, Borderlands Brewery and a restaurant going into 50 E. Broadway between Providence Service Corp. and the recently revived 44 E. Broadway, now home to the Sonoran Institute.

Mislinki envisions four bar settings for Playground, 278 E. Congress.

The Corner Bar will be downstairs. Two notable features will be video pixilated wall that “can be two, four, 12 or 24 TVs,” and the bar can be opened fully to the sidewalk.

“I’m thinking of having indoor ivy,” he said. “Everything I do is urban modern.”

Out back, he will have a Cinema Garden with movies projected on a wall. Depending on the mood, the projections may just be silent visual relief, or you could watch a movie or a UA basketball game or a soccer match.

A third bar will go on the roof. It’s the same space that served as “The Cotton Club” for “The Great Prohibition Exposition, a Bootlegger Off Broadway” put on by the Centurions.

“I want to put trees up here and have a park feel,” Mislinski said.

Keep in mind, Playground is still in the planning stages. Inside, it’s literally a sand box, stripped down to the earth floor, and bare beams and brick walls. That means ideas are still evolving in Mislinski’s mind. He hasn’t named his rooftop bar yet.

“It’s just the roof deck right now. Treehouse is where it’s heading,” he said.

There’s a fourth bar, on an upper lever, but Mislinski is keeping his thoughts under wraps for this area.

“Playgrounds are a state of mind,” he said. “It’s about having fun. It was my first breakup, my first kiss, my first chase. There’s something that happens on the playground. I want to recreate that.

“Some say it’s too juvenile. That’s the whole (bleeping) point. There’s no bullying allowed in our place. There’s going to be rules, fun rules. I’m going for the 25-to-45-year-old women. I want to have a place where single women feel comfortable.”

Mislinski opened HUB on Feb. 12. At that time, he had no eyes on the four gutted storefronts to his east. Even two months ago, his mind was not on the playground, so to speak.

“This whole thing is about six weeks old,” Mislinski said. The Playground name is maybe a couple weeks old.

HUB Restaurant & Ice Creamery is Mislinski’s vision of beer + cow + ice cream. Mislinski knows his way around the restaurant world, having worked in the Sam Fox restaurant empire from 2000 to 2009 and he put in a year and a half as general manager at Time Market before striking out on his own.

That should give some context when Mislinski insists HUB leans toward diner + beer + ice cream,

“People think I’m a high-end restaurant. I’m not high-end,” he insisted. “People tell me I can’t do beer and ice cream. (Other) people are thanking us for having the balls to do something like this. If I have haters already, that validates it for me.”

Even Mislinski is surprised at how well the ice cream is going over. He makes his own ice cream, about 60 flavors, and 24 flavors are available on any given day.

“The ice cream was going to be a loss leader,” he said. “ If anything, it has the biggest word of mouth. We beat our best day by 80 percent just on ice cream at the last 2nd Saturdays.”

Mislinski said the first few months at HUB were a bit skittish, but the place has been packed during July and August, and he has already beat his projections for the year.

HUB keeps him busy enough, but Mislinski’s entrepreneurial mind hums 24/7. Available space next door could not be ignored, especially if the owner opens the discussion.

“If I don’t take this opportunity….”