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August 22, 2014

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Joe Downtown: Downtown Cocktail Room to mark 7 memorable years

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Sam Morris

The Downtown Cocktail Room is seen Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011.

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Michael Cornthwaite and his wife, Jennifer, the First Couple of Fremont East.

There’s a myth that after seven years, all of a person’s 50 to 75 trillion cells have replaced themselves.

The old, wrinkled cells, it goes, are replaced by virile youngsters.

Seven years ago, Michael Cornthwaite was single, 33 and had just opened the Downtown Cocktail Room at 111 Las Vegas Boulevard South, and the local economy was booming. Since then, he weathered the recession, got married, has a newborn and is about to celebrate the DCR’s seven-year anniversary.

Bartenders and cocktail servers have come and gone. The Zappos invasion took place, Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project purchased a big chunk of downtown, and old regulars were replaced by new regulars at the bar.

Even if the cellular regeneration tale is a myth, Cornthwaite is virtually a new man.

The DCR, however, remains implacable, serving craft cocktails and providing a haven from the streets of downtown, which can at times become overwhelming.

Friday night, Cornthwaite will take a moment to look back on those seven years. And when he does, what will he think?

"After two years of hell in the building process, the last seven years have produced more memorable moments, interesting events, new opportunities, amazing occurrences, and great relationships than I ever imagined possible,” he says.

Some of those characters include a downtown artist who does a remarkable imitation of an escaped gorilla; customers and former employees who went on to open their own cocktail lounges; and a continual stream of people interested in downtown’s rebirth, many of whom visit the DCR during their visits.

Cornthwaite and his wife, Jennifer, now operate Emergency Arts and The Beat coffeehouse at the corner of 6th and Fremont streets. They also operate the new Pork & Beans restaurant in the Container Park, as well as the just-opened Inspire Theater, which includes the Inspire News Cafe.

“I'm proud of what has been accomplished, especially when so many said that it never could be,” he says. “I'm glad I could play a part with so many other dedicated and passionate people who were willing to take a risk and walk the walk. Looking back ... I wouldn't have done anything differently."

Friday night, 8 p.m., the seven-year anniversary party begins.

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