Cha isn't quite "officially" open yet, but that hasn't prevented the new champagne bar from experiencing its share of issues already. A shakeup from top to bottom (the fallout from which you can read about in some rather dismal reviews on Yelp) has resulted in the upscale bar hiring on a new general manager within the last week, one who will be a familiar face to anyone who once dined at Voice.
Todd Leveritt, the popular former sommelier at Michael Kramer's downtown restaurant, has now taken the reins at Cha (810 Waugh). The champagne bar -- which is pronounced "shah" -- occupies the same space that Raindrop Chocolates once did, although you'd never know it from the gorgeously remodeled interior. Leveritt is still in the middle of revamping the bar's wine list, a task to which he is more than suited. When we visited with him recently, we found the former Marine in typical tight-lipped style. He wasn't terribly eager to discuss the issues that caused Cha's owner -- David Sheller, who also owns the law firm above the bar -- to remove all of the bar's former employees, including previous GM Cory Graff. "Management issues," is all that Leveritt would say, with a quiet smile.
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The good news is that despite all these pre-opening issues, Cha seems off to a good start. We stopped in Saturday night with two friends and found the space both elegant and inviting, with cozy nooks and comfy couches throughout. But our favorite spot was Cha's "rooftop" deck: a patio built halfway between the first and second stories of the strip center that houses Cha, with sprawling couches and a killer view of downtown.
Cha has more going for it than just a chic interior, great views and a wide-open parking lot: Leveritt informed us that the bar has a retail license, and will therefore be able to sell bottles of wine and champagne at retail prices. The best part? "No corkage fee," Leveritt exclaimed happily. Buy the bottle at retail, enjoy it at Cha for no extra cost.
Although the bar's emphasis is on champagne -- and there are currently dozens to choose from -- the wine list will likely prove just as popular, as will the Barbarella-meets-Mad Men VIP lounge behind the bar.
We're told that Cha plans to have a grand opening in a couple of weeks, after a few more items are secured and loose ends are tied up. We'll be back to toast them with a glass of bubbly when it finally happens.