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Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009

Shot Through the Heart

Two’s target for love

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Red accents and dim lighting cloak this bungalow-styled tavern from the street. Candles on each table light the room in a soft glow and the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love" plays softly on the jukebox. Behind the bar are blue-illuminated shelves stocked with top-shelf bottles and Delirium on tap.

Since opening in November, Two (718 E. Burleigh St.) has become a love-soaked arrow of a bar. Nestled against the Art Bar in Riverwest, its intimate ambience and Danish postmodern décor are already piercing the hearts of its guests. So, what's the catch? Two is a make-out bar that was designed with couples in mind.

The original concept for Two grew from the B-52s song "Love Shack."

"It's geared to be a date place and for special occasions," says owner Don Krause, who also owns the Art Bar. "It's fun to observe people in love."

With 1,000 square feet to design, Krause created a love getaway, using smallness and quaintness as key attributes. The smoke-free bar is decked out with retro chairs that feature small cocktail tables between them, vintage lamps, original nude pinup-style artwork from the 1950s and '70s, and upholstered booths with beaded curtains and red velvet drapes. Beside the corner booth in the back are stacks of board games for couples to play. Even the jukebox is enamored with matters of the heart, compiled of famous love songs, Motown classics, soul and R&B love ballads, and Michael Bolton. And if that doesn't put you in the mood for love, the assortment of specialty couple cocktails will.

"We've seen people order two of the 60-ounce Love Potion #9, but they'll go through a nice long game of Scrabble to finish them," Krause says. Along with the upscale drink menu, which also includes Kübler Absinthe from Switzerland, couples can indulge in other delicious treats to jump-start their libidos. The dessert menu is full of aphrodisiacs, from chocolate lava cake to chocolate peanut butter landslide mousse.

Feelings of Affection

Before opening, rumors of only being able to enter the bar in pairs floated around the neighborhood. Though not true, it's still encouraged.

"Two is a place to have some privacy and not a lot of traffic," says John Kuehne, one of the bartenders, which means no television, pool tables or electronic games. "It caters toward couples' feelings of affection."

"But, obviously, the premiums are to get inside one of the kissing booths, if that's your motivation for the night," Krause says. "I pretty much guarantee that you can get to second base in one of the booths pretty easily."

Though it can get hot and heavy at times, it's not uncommon to see couples slow-dancing to their favorite love songs. The atmosphere is marinated in romance, but also has a light, kitschy feel to it. On Valentine's Day, a limited supply of roses will be handed out to all the sweethearts.

"You think about what the longevity of infatuation with somebody is; that's not a long time where you go from being in love to whatever turns up next," Krause says.

A middle-aged couple with feathered hair finds their seats at the bar and tells the bartender that it's their first time at Two; another pair flocks to the Fire Bird II jukebox. The peacock-shaped mirror on the wall fans out like arrows. Cupid's quiver must be full.