The Rocky Flats Lounge has been a landmark on Highway 93 for more than sixty years. Before the building became a bar, it was the original payroll office for the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant, and when it was moved from that top-secret facility to this nearby spot on the Hogan Ranch, workers from the plant were its most faithful customers.
Rocky Flats was still in the business of manufacturing plutonium triggers when Wymore Stacey took a job managing the bar in 1983.
The original owner’s sister, who was from Wisconsin, had already instituted a Friday-night fish fry; in 1985, new owner Stacey started showing Green Bay Packers games there. And that’s when the North Carolina native became a Packers fan.
He became an even more devout fan after the FBI raided the plant in June 1989, which led to the closing of Rocky Flats later that year. Although people working on the cleanup of the facility — a $7 billion project that finished ten years ago last month — provided some business, Stacey knew he could always count on bikers in the spring and summer, and Packers fans during football season.
Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant, pre-cleanup; bar to the west.
Last Sunday would have marked his 31st year of showing Broncos/Packers games, “and it was kind of sad for me,” Stacey says. That’s because the Rocky Flats Lounge has been closed since July, when a fire broke out in the kitchen and destroyed much of the structure, including any lingering reminders of that old payroll office.
Now the structure is “completely gutted,” Stacey says. “Everything has been ripped out inside.” He’s in the process of getting bids to reconstruct the bar, and after that he’ll have to submit plans to the county. “It’s just like building a new place,” he says. So there’s no date for when the bar might reopen — and no guarantee that it ever will.
In the meantime, Packers fans have scattered to other cheesehead-friendly spots around town. One of the Rocky Flats Lounge’s bartenders hosted a tailgate party outside the stadium on Sunday, where he flew a flag that the Packers organization had included in a sympathy package sent to Stacey. “We hope you are able to rebuild soon and continue your tradition of providing a Lambeau Field environment to Colorado Packers fans,” wrote Lacey Frederick, fan-engagement specialist for the team.
Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant is history. Will its namesake bar be, too? That would be a shame: It was a great place to get bombed.
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Wyman Stacey and his wife, Pat, are launching a crowdfunding campaign to help resurrect the bar; watch for updates on the Rocky Flats Lounge Facebook page.
The Rocky Flats Lounge before the fire.