Of Mice and Men
The Micky Manor is back.
That's Micky, without an "e." In 1932, when the old firehouse first became an eatery, Walt Disney didn't look too favorably on a joint being named after his star cartoon character. But dropping a letter seemed to do the trademark-respecting trick, and no one ever objected to the neon mice — Mickey and Minnie? — that soon appeared in the windows of the modest building at 2544 Federal Boulevard.
And there they glowed for more than seventy years, until one day last fall the Micky Manor was suddenly transformed into the Twelfth Man, with a new coat of Bronco blue and orange paint — and no mice ("Last Call," November 16, 2006).
Fran Daly doesn't like to think about that dark time. She'd much rather think about the days after her father, Dominic Coloroso, took over the Micky Manor in 1943 from its original owners, Mike and Madeline Phillips. They were Italian — Mike had anglicized the name — and catered to the Italian community that once dominated this northwest Denver neighborhood. Dominic was Italian, too, of course (in fact, there's a display devoted to him in the current Italians of Denver show at the Colorado History Museum), and "very charismatic," Fran remembers. He'd worked at Public Service of Colorado for more than twenty years and served six terms in the legislature. Everyone knew him — and everyone ate and drank at his place.
Every New Year's Eve, Dominic would host a party with free food at the Micky Manor; every summer, he'd throw a picnic for the regulars up at Genesee Park. And every Sunday, families would gather at the restaurant after church to eat good Italian food and enjoy good company — and Dominic's generosity. "Kids never left empty-handed," Fran says. "They'd never go in there without getting a candy bar."
When her father retired in 1976, her brother, Billy, took over — although her dad kept his hand in the business. Then in 1986, after her brother passed away, the family leased the building to Ronnie Bay. He ran the Micky Manor for a decade before selling it to Jerri and Richard Sanchez, who ran it for another decade before they sold it to the men who turned it into the Twelfth Man. Briefly.
This year, the building landed back with Fran, who also owns the space to the north that houses a jewelry store and the four parking lots to the south that border Jack-n-Grill. But although Fran was eager to see her father's place reopen, she lives in Montana and couldn't run it herself. Instead, she found the Sanchezes' niece, Michele Goss, and her husband, William Dikeman. And together they set out to revive one of Denver's classic joints.
"When I was a little girl," Fran says, "I used to peel potatoes, and when Dad was in a crunch, I'd wash dishes." She did more than that this spring to get the Micky Manor back in business. But it was all a labor of love. "My dad always said, 'You don't close a bar,'" she remembers.
This bar's been open for a month now, and while the work is still non-stop, Michele can make plans for the future. She's already put in a new bar and added Firehouse Sliders to the menu; expanded hours are next on the list. And someday, if she can find someone who can safely transport, then repair, the neon signs now stored in the basement, she'll even return the mascots to the windows.
The Micky Manor is back.
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