Alumni / Spring 2017

Alumni shaping Denver: Nicole Mattson, Nocturne

“It’s been really cool to see those artists being able to take what they’re doing at Nocturne and further their art and their careers.” Photo: Anthony Camera

Two years ago, Nicole Mattson (BSBA ’03, business; MBA ’12) and her husband, Scott, opened Nocturne, an upscale jazz club in Denver’s up-and-coming RiNo (River North) neighborhood. A hotspot for local jazz artists and aficionados — including faculty and students from the Lamont School of Music —t he club has received accolades from local and national publications and partners regularly with nonprofits such as Project Angel Heart and No Kid Hungry.


Q: You celebrated your two-year anniversary in March. What has the experience been like so far?

A: It’s been very rewarding. It’s been a labor of love at times — always an adventure and lots of challenges — but I think everybody in entrepreneurship has those issues. You do it because you feel like you’re making a difference.


Q: So much has changed in the restaurant and nightlife scenes in Denver just since you opened. Where do you see Nocturne fitting in?

A: When we first looked at opening in Denver, it was still kind of an up-and-coming hospitality scene. There were a lot of really great chef-driven restaurants, but maybe not a bunch of restaurants that encompassed the full customer experience. It’s been awesome to be a part of that Denver restaurant scene that really is getting more toward the experience on the guest side, so it’s not just all about the food, but it’s about the total experience you walk away with.


Q: You’re a Denver-area native; how have you seen the city change in the last five to 10 years?

A: Denver is a great home base. It’s got this great feel right now of becoming more of an urban city with a thriving art scene, a thriving music scene and a thriving dining scene, yet you still have this groundedness of being able to go up to the mountains for the weekend or going hiking on a weekday during your lunch break.


Q: What about the RiNo area? That neighborhood has really taken off in the last couple of years.

A: It has been a crazy boom of development. It’s been awesome to see, and I like that RiNo is holding on to a lot of the entrepreneurial, local startup kinds of businesses. You don’t see a Starbucks or a Banana Republic coming on every corner, which is great. It’s development, but it’s development that’s trying to hold firm to that sense of community.


Q: Nocturne has definitely become one of the headquarters for the local jazz scene. What has that been like?

A: That’s been awesome and extremely rewarding. We knew that there was a thriving jazz scene in Denver, but I don’t think we had any idea of the caliber of talent that we host here in this city. When I look back at how much we have paid out to musicians over the past two years, it feels really good. I know that we are supporting a lot of the projects that these musicians are able to do. I can go back and say, “OK, that residency basically supported that musician’s CD that they released half a year later.” It’s been really cool to see those artists being able to take what they’re doing at Nocturne and further their art and their careers and what they’re putting out there.



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