Innovative Playground Lounge on Congress Opening This Week

December 22, 2011

By Teya Vitu

Kade Mislinski sticks to elementary concepts for his Playground lounge, 278 East Congress Street.

Look up: 84 old-school wooden swings hang from the ceiling at the Playground lounge.

He calls happy hour “Recess,” the main bar at the corner of Congress and Fifth Avenue is called “The Corner,” another bar is “Detention,” and as for the rooftop bar, “I call it The Roof right now,” Mislinski said.

Mislinski is the man behind HUB Restaurant & Ice Creamery, two doors down at 266 East Congress, which he opened this past Valentine’s Day.

East of HUB, all that space was vacant when Mislinski started building out HUB and remained stripped to the dirt floor this summer when Playground emerged in his ever-racing mind.

“Everything here is to provide a lounge experience, not a nightclub,” Mislinski said. “It’s about quick service, people having fun. The hospitality is huge for me. My thing is to throw a party, a bunch of little parties.”

He expects to open Playground on January 12. Keep a Facebook eye on Playground Tucson for specific opening details.

Expect Playground to have a similar playfulness to the beer-and-ice cream concept at HUB.

Did you ever look up at HUB and see the upside-down lamps dangling from the ceiling? Same whimsy’s in play at Playground’s Corner bar, where you’ll find 84 old-school wooden swings on varied length heavy-rung chains high above the bar. Mini-spot lights above the swing seats cast odd shadows upon the bar below.

Look down at the floor and you’ll see round flecks of bright color – 3,000 ground up marbles.

3,000 marbles were ground into the floor at Playground lounge.

“This is where I’m putting my love,” Mislinski said about The Corner. “This is about the return of the martini and vodka and the champagne cocktail.”

The 25-foot-long mahogany bar is in the center of the room and goes around in a rectangle. Take a look below the counter and you’ll see addresses of famous playgrounds around the world.

Monkey bars frame the 18-by-5-foot video wall with 12 screens that can be combined to build three different displays or have 12 different things showing. This could be old movies, music videos or sports.

“We write a script every day going from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.,” he said.

He’s envisioning a movie night at The Corner on the third Saturday each month, probably starting at 10 p.m. He thinks the first film in January will be “The Big Lebowski.” He sees it as a chance for people to dress up in period garb for the movie.

The period Mislinski is really enamored with is the golden age of the studio era.

“Rita Hayworth has hit me right now,” Mislinski said. “Black and whites are really hitting me.”

That will be happening out back in the outdoor Bar Cinema. One wall will have a 15-foot screen that will more often than not be filled with various old movies. Sound may be on or off. More than anything, it creates visual ambience.

Bar Cinema will have three tented cabanas that can be open or closed and where sound for the movie can be shut on or off. Otherwise, it’s open area with travertine brick and Astroturf.

“The whole idea is a resort meets a cinema,” Mislinski said. “Out here it’s rum and tequila drinks in hurricane glasses.”

The Corner and Bar Cinema are expected to open in early January. Following months will bring Detention, a smaller upstairs bar maxing out at 40 people.

“It’s about specialty cocktails,” Mislinski said.

The Roof has already had a number of events. Eventually, he wants to have a bar and furnishings on The Roof. Right now, there’s nothing up there unless he has an event.

“There’s reunions already booked here. I’m trying to get some gem show people in here,” he said.

An elevator goes up to The Roof.

“I guess the elevator is the slide,” Mislinski said, keeping to the elementary school playground theme, one that appeals greatly to his entrepreneurial mind. “The playground is one of the first social experiences in your life.”