Wednesday, December 30, 2020

History of the Lion's Lair

The Playboy Lounge (photo courtesy Save the Signs)

The CBGB's of Denver, the Lion's Lair at 2022 E. Colfax Avenue, has a storied history. Upon further research through old Denver phone books and public records, this timeline emerged:

1926: Jno B Jr. Nellegar Autos (earliest available record)
1927-1928: Capital Motor Co.
Capitol Motor Co.
: Vacant
1931: De Berry Garment Co.
1933: GF Johnson Women's Wear
1934: Alvin T. Johnson Women’s Wear
1935-1936: Chas Gibboney took over the building as a restaurateur; later operated by Frank Banta (business name unknown)
1937-1938: The Salad Bowl (restaurant)
1939: The Skol Inn
1940-1955: Aladdin Tavern
1956-1962: Playboy Lounge
1963-1967: The Playroom
1968-1971: Aladdin Lounge
1972-1973: Lyon’s Lair, after the new owner John Lyons.
1974: The Lion’s Lair

In the interest of historical accuracy, please send any additions or corrections to

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Blue Onion Demolished

The Blue Onion in the 1980's, courtesy Reed Weimer

Photo of the Blue Onion today, courtesy Colfax Jack

The former Blue Onion Restaurant building on East Colfax has been demolished. The building has been vacant for a few years and the Blue Onion signage was removed decades ago, but it's still sad to see it go.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

New China Cafe


Main Dining Room of New China Cafe, Denver’ most popular Chinese Restaurant, once located at 726 E. Colfax Avenue. Herbert Wong, Manager, caters to those who delight in the finest of Chinese and American dishes. His Chicken Almond, many varieties of Chow Mein and Chop Suey and other varieties of Tempting Chinese Foods would compel you to return.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Christmas Capitol of the World

City and County Building in Denver, Colorado
Denver is known to have one of the very first outdoor Christmas light displays because of Denver electrician David Sturgeon. In 1914, his son was too sick to celebrate Christmas with his family by their decorated tree but his father still wanted his son to be able to feel the holiday cheer! He dipped light bulbs in red and green paint, strung them with electrical wire, and placed them on a tree in his front yard in full view through his son’s window. Soon other Denver citizens began putting up outdoor holiday decorations like Sturgeon’s strand of lights.
By the 1920s many Denver homes glowed merry and bright with the spirit of Christmas, and the city proclaimed itself the “Christmas Capitol of the World.” In 1938, the city government began lighting up the City and County Building with Christmas lights, a tradition that continues to this day.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Sachs Furniture Billboard


The Star Bread sign and Sachs Furniture Billboard once visible from West Colfax Avenue. Notice the section of the sign advertising Leon the Neon Giraffe!


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Monday, December 21, 2020

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Service Garage

Photo courtesy The Aurora History Museum

This photo was taken at a service garage near East Colfax Avenue and Peoria Street across from Fitzsimons Army Hospital in the 1930s. The 1930s in Aurora was a time of change and scarcity, but the people of Aurora continued to flourish.

Saturday, December 19, 2020


 Denver’s working-class Jewish community in West Colfax founded the Jewish Consumptive Relief Society (JCRS) in 1904. The new organization recruited Dr. Charles Spivak. In his honor, the student studio building at the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, who currently occupies the site, is named Spivak.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Dog n Suds Drive-In

1970 photos of the Dog n Suds Drive-In at 7315 East Colfax Avenue. Thanks to David Hosticka for sending these in! Stephen Wagoner was a part owner for the 18 months this location was open. It was a favorite of the students at the Colorado Women's College just up Quebec Street. It was wonderful while it lasted, but not enough business to last through the winter of 70/71. He employed several Vietnam vets recovering at Fitzsimons Hospital.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Village Barbers

Photo courtesy Kris Autobee

The heavyweight champ of old school barber shops is Village Barbers at 9709 W. Colfax.  Been in business since 1954.  That's more than six decades of chatter about politics, the weather, and the Broncos.   Some other contenders include Drake's Barber and Beauty at 5235 W. Colfax (in business from 1952 to 1972) and handful of barbers at 7606 from 1943 to 1993.  These included the helpfully named Lakewood Barber Shop from 1953 to 1964 and the Wig Whiz (1969 only).  I will be saying "Wig Whiz" at every opportunity from now on.  


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Top Star Motel Sign Restoration

Photo by Jonny Barber
Always good to see classic neon being restored...this time it's the Top Star Motel sign at 10890 E. Colfax Avenue in Aurora.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Lazy-C Motor Lodge

(photo courtesy of the National Archives at Denver)

Lazy-C Motor Lodge, 8787 East Colfax Avenue, 1970s.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Café York


Axum Ethiopian Cuisine, at 5501 E. Colfax Avenue, used to be Café York which was one of the premier listening rooms in America in the 1970's. Jimmy Buffett played his first show in Colorado here.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Jesse Owens visits Emerson Street East Restaurant on Colfax

This 1972 Original Photo by DENVER POST PHOTOGRAPHER BARRY STAVER shows Jesse Owens, winner of 4 gold medals in 1936 at the Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany, finding his photo amid the collection of all-star athletes gracing the walls of the Emerson Street East Restaurant at 900 East Colfax Avenue operated by William Parella.  Owens visited sports-oriented dining spa during Denver, Colorado visit promoting "Great Olympic Moments," limited edition silver medals offered until September 10 on public sale by Coca-Coca Bottling Company to raise funds to help send America's 1972 Olympic athletes to Munich.


Friday, December 11, 2020

History Colorado

The person who took the initiative in founding the State Historical Society of Colorado was William D. Todd. He was taken as a small boy to live in Washington D.C., and at the age of eleven was appointed a page in the House of Representatives. Later he became a clerk for Schuyler Colfax and then served as his private secretary while Colfax was Speaker of the House and later Vice President.
Todd first came to Colorado with the Colfax Party on a vacation trip in 1868. He returned in 1873 and settled here, first practicing law and then going into banking. In 1878, he was elected into the lower House of Colorado legislature. On January 23, 1879, Mr. Todd introduced "House Bill No. 134, a bill for an act to encourage the formation and establishment of a State historical and natural history society", which achieved final passage on February 6th.
Today the society he founded is known as History Colorado.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Quixote's True Blue Cafe


Back when Quixote's used to be on East Colfax Avenue in the Riviera Motel Bar. It originally opened in 1996, the year following the death of Jerry Garcia.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Marlon D. Green


The Stapleton neighborhood recently changed its name to Central Park because of Stapleton's ties to the Ku Klux Klan. Good. But they really missed out on a great opportunity as, ironically, the very first African American pilot ever hired by a commercial passenger airline, Marlon D. Green, began flying passenger planes out of Stapleton International Airport for Continental Airlines in 1965. He fought a six-year court battle that opened the industry to minority-race aviators and was promoted to captain in 1966.
They could have called it Marlon's Green (or something to that effect). The area was originally called Rattlesnake Hollow. Go figure.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Don Cheadle at East High School


Don Cheadle: the East High School years. Yes, Mr. Cheadle was once an East High he is singing with Neil Bridge’s Citywide Jazz Combo. That’s Neil to the side conducting.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Populus coming to West Colfax Avenue


This is what's planned for the old Denver Hospitality Center site at 225 W Colfax. I'm still not happy that the old building is being demolished, but I really like this new one (at least from what I can tell by the rendering). - Colfax Jack

Urban Villages, a Denver-based real estate firm that focuses on long-term value creation, in partnership with world-renowned architecture practice Studio Gang, revealed the design of a new 145,000-gross-square-foot, 13-story mixed-use building – known as “Populus” – located at 14th Street and Colfax Avenue, immediately adjacent to Civic Center Park.

Here's what it's replacing:

Sunday, December 6, 2020

13th Amendment


On this day (Dec. 6th) 155 years ago, our country founded on ideals of freedom and universal equality finally ended the legal institution of slavery when Congress ratified the 13th Amendment. Colfax Avenue namesake Schuyler Colfax was the Speaker of the House at the time, and considered it the pinnacle of his political career.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Scramble Campbell

Once upon a time, The Colfax Museum played host to Scramble Campbell.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Colfax and Broadway, 1925

Courtesy the Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

 Colfax and Broadway, 1925.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

China Place Restaurant


Do you remember China Place restaurant? This photo was taken of the restaurant in the 1970s. Located at near the Aurora Fox Theater on East Colfax Avenue, China Place operated out of a prefabricated building that was built in the 1940s and originally served as a diner.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Tap Inn

Tap Inn, 4888 West Colfax Avenue, Denver, 1980s (photo by Reed Weimer)

This bar is now known as The Viking and the sign is still there, although it's been painted over. The vintage Arby's building next door is still there as well, although it's now a used car lot.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Eugene Field House


Did you know that Margaret Brown was one of Denver's early preservationists? In 1927 she worked to preserve the home of Denver poet, Eugene Field, from its threatened location near the Denver Mint on Colfax Avenue to Washington Park. The home served as a library branch for 40 years. Today it is used by the park, and a nearby statue of Wynken, Blynken and Nod commemorates one of Field's most famous poems.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Molly Brown House Museum

Margaret and J.J. Brown moved into this house in 1894.

Just a block and a half off Colfax Avenue lies the "Unsinkable" Molly Brown House Museum at 1340 Pennsylvania Street.

Historic Denver was founded as part of an effort to purchase the Molly Brown House and save it from the wrecking ball that had felled so many of its neighbors in Capitol Hill. The owner at the time, Art Leisinring, put out the alert that he needed to sell the structure, and Denver history lovers and preservationists worked together to save the decrepit mansion. The museum devoted to telling the story of Margaret Brown, Denver philanthropist and suffragist, has been open to the public since March 1971, and has welcomed well over two million people.

Friday, November 27, 2020

1960 Hillman Super Minx at Farmer Joe Cars


So much little cost. The 1960 Hillman Super Minx at Farmer Joe Cars, 7575 East Colfax.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Satire Lounge Sign

Photo by John Margolies

The Satire Lounge sports a classic neon sign which hearkens back to the Highway 40 era of Colfax Avenue.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Big Al's Gashouse


Big Al's does it again! Featuring live entertainment with The Escorts at 8975 E. Colfax Avenue.

Friday, November 20, 2020

New Yorker Lounge Sign Has A New Home

The old neon sign from the New Yorker Lounge, once at 2213 E. Colfax Avenue and York Street, has a new home at 17th and Newton St. in Denver.