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But the Paramount is now known for a different kind of music. The theater has been an important stop for musicians in the early stages of their careers — and they often enjoy coming back toward the end of their careers, says Scheck, who worked at the place even before Kroenke took over.

"In this day and age, laying your hands on a piece of history...is rare. You would never be able to build something like this today," he points out. "This is what it was like if my great-grandparents came to a show and were here in 1930 when it opened. It's a true gem." — Sam Levin

*******

Denver's second-oldest continuously operating brewery is part of a national chain of similar operations. It features a "concept" that these days is found more often in suburban shopping centers than in urban cores, and it was recently bought out by another chain — one with its corporate headquarters in Tennessee.

But it wasn't always that way.

The Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery opened on the ground floor of the Prudential Building, at 16th and Curtis streets, on November 1, 1991, three years after the Wynkoop Brewing Company started serving beer in LoDo and two years before the Colorado Rockies came to town. Its founders, entrepreneurs Frank and Gina Day, were already involved in the Boulder Beer Company and wanted something similar in Denver.

They jokingly named it after its spot in the building that housed the Prudential insurance company, which used a Rock of Gibraltar logo and the slogan "Own a Piece of the Rock."

"We've been through a lot of renovations and some corporate mergers, but the main idea has stayed the same," says Daniel Langhoff, who was working the host shift on a recent afternoon. The idea: to make good food and to brew good beer.

A local actor, performer and musician, Langhoff started coming to Rock Bottom when he was in high school to check out the bands that would play on a loft-like landing above the brewhouse that's on display in the center of the restaurant. "They would climb ladders to get up there and we would sit over there," he says, pointing toward what is now Rock Bottom's main entrance.

Over the years he returned again and again, celebrating his thirtieth birthday at Rock Bottom and finally taking a job as a host here in 2008. "I've always liked the 16th Street Mall," he says. "Everything downtown centers around the mall but doesn't crowd it."

Lunchtime during the week, as well as Friday and Saturday nights, are when the Rock Bottom sees its biggest regular rushes, but it normally takes a convention or a major sporting event to fill all 438 seats and 100-plus patio spots. Rock Bottom's own events, like its summer music series and its once-a-month Thursday beer releases, also help attract customers. Oh, and at those beer releases, anyone who shows up between 6 and 6:30 p.m. gets a free pint.

You can watch that beer being made at Rock Bottom. That's because the kettles themselves are located in the middle of the space, with big windows to look through. A system of steel pipes connects the kettles to fermentation and storage tanks, which are located in three highly visible places.

"It was designed for show, not for functionality," says John McClure, who has been brewing at this Rock Bottom for fifteen years this week, all the while using the same equipment. Not that that has impeded his skills. McClure has won numerous awards and medals for his beers, including a gold at the prestigious World Beer Cup last May for his Baltic Gnome Porter — which, by the way, is currently on tap here.

He brews around 2,400 barrels of beer each year and has helped design some of the recipes for beers that are now featured at Rock Bottom's other thirty-plus locations.

When the Wynkoop Brewing Company — Denver's oldest brewpub — was founded in LoDo in 1988, it was credited as the brewpub that built a neighborhood.

But Denver's second-oldest brewpub — founded when the 16th Street Mall was only nine years old — has been doing the same thing on the other end of downtown. Jonathan Shikes

*******

From Chestnut Place, a street that runs from the very end of the 16th Street Mall up to 20th Street and is lined with chain-link fences and construction equipment, it's possible to imagine what the redeveloped Denver Union Station will look like when it's done. It's a multi-layered daydream: To the west is the new light-rail station, neat and gleaming but nearly deserted at noon on a weekday except for the snaking line of free 16th Street Mall shuttles queuing up to turn around for another circuitous trip.

To the east is where the most exciting stuff is happening, though much of it is underground. Skylights poke up between the public gardens and beside the walkways on top of the two-block-long, 22-bay subterranean bus depot being built underneath 17th Street. Those walkways lead straight from Chestnut Place to the eventual location of eight street-level commuter rail tracks that will sit behind Union Station and someday take passengers to Boulder, Thornton, Wheat Ridge and Denver International Airport.

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47 comments
OverIt
OverIt

30 years ago is was great; even 20 years ago is was great.  Now...does anyone look around when they come down here?  Curtis and up is terrible, and that's during the workday.  Forget about coming down on a Sunday afternoon.  If you have a family or anything valuable it's often just scary to be hanging out on the mall.  The LoDo side of the mall...a bit better but still not great.

 

And the whole length is just dated and makes me feeling like it's 1992.  The expense of regular maintenance or a makeover are too high (and we pay for it as taxpayers, not the vendors and property owners proximate to the mall).

 

Time to turn it back into a regular street.  It has run its course.

Stephen At Half Aspen
Stephen At Half Aspen

I remember laying there with an officer's knee on my neck and the other tightening down the cuffs like he was torquing a lug nut. Ah, the good old days.

Tenzin Tsering
Tenzin Tsering

Hardcore parkouring every small obstacle in my path.

twisst260
twisst260

@new_clear_DAZE A very bright ISS will cross your sky tonight. It comes up in the South at 7:57 pm. Details: http://t.co/Jjgkl4Dq

patricia.calhoun
patricia.calhoun moderator editortopcommenter

if you'd like to see your comment published in the print edition as a letter to the editor (with your real name), e-mail me at patricia.calhoun@westword.com

WestGuest
WestGuest

16th Street was cool, before the mall.  Thanx for the nostalgia, Alan!

as far as panhandlers, they're outnumbered 10 to 1 by the people

soliciting for their "causes".  but if all you need is a souvenir t-shirt,

this is your spot.

Ozzie Perch
Ozzie Perch

I remember driving down it just one way...now my buses are cruising it!cool!

Caleb Mather
Caleb Mather

Junkies n' panhandlers are my personal fave

Michael McCarthy
Michael McCarthy

Is the 180 cameras...police on: horse...segway...motorcycles....bicycles....foot....undercover too...so yeah...it is safe...that is my favorite part. If someone shoots you..they will know who did it.

Joe Matrone
Joe Matrone

what joktan said... 16th st is one of my least parts of Denver

Fred Kaplan
Fred Kaplan

Favorite thing about the 16th St. Mall is avoiding it.

Joktan Rogel
Joktan Rogel

I can't decide between overeager petitioners and smoke being blown in my face. It's a really tough call.

Lisa Wolf DeWitt
Lisa Wolf DeWitt

al fresco dining...before dark and the unsavory folks start roaming the streets

Wehavesir
Wehavesir

Seriously, it's not even that bad! Have you ever been to south side Jamaica Queens or Compton? The 16th street mall is not ghetto whatsoever, even late at night. Be more scared of the drunk lodo jock-types bar hopping than the homeless. Geesh 

Keloid
Keloid

The 16th Street Mall: A transient toilet and gangbanger outreach program that never met a wig shop it didn't like. World class, Denver! WORLD-FUCKING-CLASS!

basecamper
basecamper

@DowntownDenver @DenverWestword The mall is a scary mess filled with second rate shops, panhandlers and strung out teen runaways. Buzz?

Keloid
Keloid

Well, thanks to Hancocks camping ban, all your shit seems to be rolling uphill to us. I'll be sure to point em back to where they belong, so your gem of the west doesn't lose it's local flavor.

Spliffy
Spliffy

You wrote LMAO? Seriously? What the fuck, are you a fourteen year old girl texting about her new tween boyfriend or Bieber CD? SERIOUSLY? You SERIOUSLY wrote LMAO? Thanks for chiming in for the sanctimonious douche canoe contingent.

sux2Bstupid
sux2Bstupid

 @Sux2BU

 

 Definition for pleb from the Oxford English Dictionary: plebeian: one of the common people.

 

plebe/plēb/Noun:A newly entered cadet or freshman, esp. at a military academy.

 

Go get yourself a real dictionary.

 

 

sux2Bstupid
sux2Bstupid

 @Sux2BU

 Yes, and because Keloid spelled pusillanimous correctly, that makes him some kind of genius?

 

Here's the definition from the Oxford English Dictionary: pu·sil·lan·i·mous/ˌpyo͞osəˈlanəməs/Adjective:Showing a lack of courage or determination; timid.

 

Maybe you'd better explain how BackOffImStarving's comments were lacking in courage?

 

I think you have no clue what you're talking about. The Urban Dictionary? You attached a link to the Urban Dictionary?!? That's hilarious.

sux2Bstupid
sux2Bstupid

 @Sux2BU

 You attached a link to the Urban Dictionary? Seriously? LMAO.

Factually
Factually

 @Keloid

 Also, I don't think you know the definition of pusillanimous (I think you're guessing), because you didn't really use it correctly.

Factually
Factually

 @Keloid

 ActuallyBackOffImStarving is correct. It is "pleb" -- short for

plebeian, which means someone regarded as ill-educated. A "plebe" is a first year military student.

Keloid
Keloid

Spare me your self righteous indignation. How many homeless you got squatting in your apartment? 50? 100? You renting Porta Potties for them to use, or just letting them beshit your doorway? That's what I thought, you're nothing but another good German, beating your chest about community and corporate greed while you blog on your iPad and sip lattes and smoke kindy in your skinny jeans and hoodie. Go hop on your fixie and pedal your baby nuts around the block a few more times before you spout your ridiculous fucking nonsense to me, junior. Oh, and it's spelled 

P-L-E-B-E, you pusillanimous asshat.

Sux2BU
Sux2BU

Don't you have an Occutard Camp to go stink up?

BackOffImStarving
BackOffImStarving topcommenter

 @Keloid Heil Hitler.  Right, Keloid?  We can't have the unclean coming into contact with the chosen ones.  I'm surprised you stooped to talking to plebs like us.  Was that your contribution to society for the year of 2012?  I guess that means you don't have to give your single can of beans to the food drive this holiday season.  Fucking piece of shit douchebag.

 
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