How One of Denver’s Oldest Bars is Adapting To Survive The Times

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If walls could tell stories, My Brother’s Bar would have over 100 years of tales to share as one of Denver’s oldest bars.

Back in 1873, the bar was established, but not called My Brother’s Bar, or Brother’s, until 1970. Throughout the years, there have been many changes in ownership and names. Even though each have kept the bones of the bar and stayed true to the roots, there were still marks made and adaptation needed such as an expansion to the dining area to keep up with the ever-growing customer base.

Almost four years ago, the Karagas family (the previous owners) stepped down and sold to Paula Newman, Dave Newman and their son, Daniel Newman after 47 years of ownership. The Newman family had gotten wind that there was a chance the bar could be shut down and demolished. Paula, who had both waitressed and helped managed at the bar since 1984, and her family who had spent much time there with her, had strong personal connections with it and knew they needed to purchase the bar to help save it. In 2017, they became the official owners.

“When we took over, we kept everything the same,” Daniel said. “From the staff to the menu to the decor, we stuck to the roots of the bar…just the history and to have had something that has lasted and been in continuous operation for almost 150 years now is so cool to be part of.”

Inside the bar itself is a dim-lit dining area with darker tones that give off more of a historical and welcoming feeling to its guests. Older photographs and paintings hang on the wood-paneled and brick walls. Even the bar top has an authentic and original feel with the wood that has been worn over so many years of use. One might say that taking a step inside is like taking a step back in time.

Although the Newman family has kept the bar itself the same, in adapting to COVID-19 and the unique challenges it has brought they expanded their outdoor seating area to include some new features that could very well be making a permanent stay. Originally the back area simply included a small patio and parking lot. To meet the requirements for outdoor seating and still be able to expand their seating options, they converted the parking lot into an additional patio space. The patio now offers guests much more room for comfortable dining and outdoor tables, igloos and additional tables inside large tents. Most of the igloos can seat roughly four to five people while there are a handful that are slightly bigger and can take a few more.

“It is funny because we accidentally made the outside more fancy than the inside without even meaning to,” Daniel said.

Each contains an electric space heater resembling a fireplace to give almost a cozy dining room type ambiance. The tent themselves seem to resemble something one may find in an expedition of sorts thanks to some of the decor that was originally added to give it a little more of a dining experience.

“It really is with the material and style of tent we are using that give it that feel,” he said. “Then we have some old mining lanterns and things like that just to kind of give it a little character, but we don’t really know how deep we will be going with that look.”

Diving into the menu, they offer a variety of burgers, sandwiches, salads, non-meat options and so much more. Though there are many different categories for food selections, the ‘Hot Stuff’ section provides mouth-watering meals to enjoy as the weather begins to get cooler. To top off some of those warm meals, they, also, offer various ales, lagers, a cider and non-alcoholic options to enjoy.

“Our kind of claim to fame on the burgers side is the JCB, the Jalapeño Cream Cheeseburger, that has been around for a while,” Daniel said.

The experience My Brother’s Bar gives to guests is unlike any other bar in Denver. Though there have been some changes over the years to adapt to different generations and demands, every owner has stayed true to its roots and kept the history of the bar alive.

My Brother’s Bar is currently open for dining in options on the patio with social distancing being practiced and occupancy limits. They, also, offer delivery through UberEats and DoorDash.

All photography by Adrienne Thomas.