B-Happy Hour at the Club 404

Please join us for our first b-happy hour!

We’ll be gathering at Club 404 to celebrate Denver, our 50th blog post, the contributors to buckfifty, and those smarty-pants Westword Masterminds, past and present. We’ll have buckfifty Miller Genuine Drafts, snacks, and a selection of trivia questions taken from the B50 site (to warm you up for our Locals Only Quiz in March, presented by Buckfifty and Geeks Who Drink).

Only 100 more posts to go, send us your buckfifty.

Tuesday February 24th 5-7 pm at the Club 404, at 4th and Broadway across from Meininger’s.
See you There!

More about the Club 404

As Patricia Calhoun wrote in Westword in December, 2008, the Club 404 is “one of Denver’s last true dives.” Jerry Feld started the Club 57 years ago, and still runs the place with the help of his family. “He’s been there ever since, seeing Denver through boom and bust and boom and bust again. Club 404 will see us through this one, too.”

The 404 (and Nonny the Waitress who still works there) were immortalized in the song “Kristin and Billie” off the 1995 debut album by Slim Cessna’s Auto Club.

[audio:http://buckfifty.org/wordpress/audio/Kristen-Billy.mp3 |titles=Kristen and Billy|artists=Slim Cessnas Auto Club]

“There’s a waitress named Nonny at the 404,
We’re wishing you were more near.
We’re still here in Denver,
Can’t wait till you get here,
Oh Nonny, another round over here”

Join us at the Club 404 for a round and some conversation in honor of denver and denverites, past and present.

Remember City Spirit? I do.

— by Tracy Weil, weilworks.com

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In 1988 I graduated from Fort Lewis College in Durango and headed to Denver to try and find a job in the “big city.” Not really ready to start working a regular day job, I happened across an artful place called City Spirit Cafe. I dropped in and fell in love with the vibrant pink walls and playful tile mosaics covering the entire restaurant. I asked if they were hiring wait staff and sure enough they were. This is where I met owners Mickey and Susan.

The cafe was the brain child of local developer Mickey Zeppelin and artist Susan Wick. They opened the award winning cafe & bookstore in 1985 in the up and coming area called LoDo. They also enlisted Michael Fagen to help put together the fabulous Art & Architecture bookstore in the basement of this new venture. City Spirit Cafe served health conscious fare as well as sinful desserts. After 9pm the cafe was the place to be, regularly hosting live musicians like Johnny Long, Lionel Young, Eagle Park Slim & Sympathy F as well as live local djs like DJ Knee.

As an artist I fit right in. This is where I got my start with my first exhibition in the Art Annex next door to the cafe. I waited tables for about 3 years, then started bartending and managing the restaurant. I also booked bands and moved into handling special events and PR for the thriving cafe.

As a community meeting place, City Spirit always hosted interesting things to bring people together; from talks, to seminars, to poetry readings to fashion shows there was always something going on.


One of the most memorable fashion events was “Fashionhomemade,” the 5th annual show and one of the more wilder fashion extravaganzas. The fashion shows were always interesting and this small cafe drew over 1000 people this particular evening.

We took over Blake Street and the back alley, setting up tables for service and a runway right down the middle of the cafe. Le Menu consisted of fresh salads, Brie and roasted garlic, artichokes & the signature salsa and blue corn chips. Other tasty fare included; seafood lasagna & mussels, along with the deluxe tamale plate, Paella and Asian Lo Mein.

Another signature item was the famous and potent City Spirit La La. This “pre-cosmo” was a must have while sitting at the bar, limit of 4. I’ve included the recipe below for those nostalgics that would like to recreate it.

The fashion show started around 9:30pm and included lots of local designer talent including handmade knits and redo clothing by Susan Wick, vintage clothes from Soul Flower & designs made of astro-turf by Alicia Nowicki, Carol Mier sculptural fashions, uncommon & eclectic work by Mona Lucero, and S&M Housewife & tupperwear kink by now NYC designers Uzi (Jose Duran & David Ball). Other designers included Claire Inwood, Heidi Peterson, Shelly Schoeneshoefer, Cleo Ortize Couture, Colorado Institute of Art Students, Cydney Griggs, Chitahka Nsombie, Nur D’afrique, Gayla Coleman, Saohm Hattier & Jerry Whitehead. After the show patrons were invited downstairs to browse and buy all the creative wears in the show and the event ended with dancing at 11pm with music by dj Afro-dytee.

The café was also a great place to meet famous musicians all looking for a heathly place to eat on the road. Over my 10 years at the café I met or crossed paths with Beck, Allison Morissette, Boy George, Lauryn Hill, Digable Planets,The Fugees, Tool, Lenny Kravitz and The Brand New Heavys. The Smashing Pumpkins even made a special unplugged appearance one night after their concert in town.

What a place! City Spirit will always have a special place in my heart; here I learned what community was all about. We’d love to hear your memories of the café please post below.

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City Spirit Café La La: Sold for $4 (limit 4)
1 ½ oz. Absolut Vodka
3 oz. Knudsen’s Cranberry Juice
Splash of Cointreau
Splash of Rose’s Lime Juice or fresh lime juice
Serve chilled in a martini glass with a Twist of Lemon

City Spirit was located at 1434 Blake Street. All the tile-work was torn out but remnants of the space, including parts of the bar, can still be seen at Taxi in RiNo.

My Brother’s Car

In 1983, Brother’s manager Dave Le Compte was downstairs counting the previous days receipts. It was early in the morning and he was alone in the building. He startled to a loud booming noise followed by the building shaking and then settling. He ran upstairs; the bar area was dark, except for the light coming in around the enormous grill of the car that had just been propelled through the front door.

The sole occupant of the car, a woman, was trapped inside, wedged between the door jam and the post. The intersection at that time did not have a light; she had been traveling down 15th and had been hit from the side by a car heading south, sending her into Brother’s. The fire department was called and used the Jaws of Life to get her out. Conscious but badly bruised she was taken to the hospital and the car was removed and towed away.

That morning Brother’s opened on time, with a makeshift door put in place and stories to tell. Word eventually came that the woman in the car was going to be okay; she had been treated and released. Owner Jim Karagas sent her a gift card so that she and her husband could return another time.

Weeks before the accident a new front door had been installed. Long-time regular and woodworker Bob Clesen had been commissioned to create a solid mahogany door and entrance. Only days old, in seconds the whole thing had been turned into splinters.

The 15th street façade of the 1983 Brother’s was brick with narrow high windows on the north. This is the template that many a dark bar has used over the years, allowing a little light in and still offering privacy for those inside. After the accident they took the opportunity to remodel the front by installing large windows that help define the bar as it is today.

My Brother’s Bar, located at 2376 15th Street in Denver, celebrates its 39th birthday in January of 2009.

– Story by Dave Le Compte, reported by buckfifty

More about Brother’s from Westword

Skylark (the old skylark, that is)

In 2003, the Skylark Bar moved from its home of 60 years at 58 Broadway to a new, roomier location at 140 South Broadway. According to its creators at Milkhaus, this brilliant time-lapse video “was made largely because of the bar moving out of it’s old space. We all had such great memories of the place we wanted to create something permanent that documented it.”

Special thanks to Davis Coombe, Bike Mike, Ronnie Crawford, and Scott Heron.