Bluebird Owner Chris Swank Buys Goosetown Tavern and Turns It Into a Music Venue
Reno Divorce performs at the newly updated Goosetown Tavern.
D Sena Photo
Goosetown Tavern has a new owner: Chris Swank, who has a long history in Denver music. He's taking over the bar from the Wynkoop Brewing Company, and he did a "low-key remodel," adding a stage and sound system installed by Event Production Services in the back room where local bands now play on the weekends.
See also: Denver's Ten Best Small Venues
What the back room of Goosetown looked like before the remodel.
Swank co-founded the local independent concert-promotion company Nobody In Particular Presents with Doug Kauffman and Jesse Morreale. He also bought and renovated the Bluebird Theater twenty years ago with Evan Dechtman.
Swank says it's good to be working with local bands again while not having to worry about bigger national acts and some of the big headaches that come with that. Goosetown manager Rob Crawford, who plays in the Trade-Ins, is handling the booking with help from Lil' Thunder's Marie Litton.
After AEG Live took over operations at the Bluebird nearly decade ago, Swank and his family took a trip to Argentina, and what he thought would be a year-long sabbatical turned into living down there for five years while still making the occasional trip back to Denver.
While Swank, who also owns Mezcal next door, might be the new owner of the Goosetown, he's actually owned the building almost as long as he's owned the Bluebird. About a year after opening the Bluebird with partner Evan Dechtman in 1994, they also bought the corner building directly across Colfax Avenue that houses Goosetown. Swank says it was a time when you couldn't own two liquor licenses, and since they already had one for the Bluebird, they opened a coffee shop called Across the Street Café, which Swank says probably lasted less than a year.
"We quickly needed a tenant, and somehow [John] Hickenlooper got wind of it, and at the same time he had been in conversation with the people at Coors, who were going to knock this building down, this historic bar called the Goosetown, which was founded by Germans in Golden," Swank says. "They called it Goosetown because it reminded them of some place in Germany. They even called a part of it Golden Goosetown."
The original Goosetown in Golden, built in 1873 and later named Sam's Land, was the first account that the Coors family ever sold beer to, and as Marty Jones wrote in his 1997 piece on the old Goosetown, "it's considered by local historians to be the oldest bar in the Denver metro area and perhaps in all of Colorado."
Before the Goosetown in Golden was demolished to make way for a parking lot in 1998, Hickenlooper, founder of the Wykooop Brewing Company, salvaged the front and back bars and booths and moved them to the incarnation of the Goosetown Tavern on Colfax that opened the same year.
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