It was sixty years ago that Jerry Feld, then a student at the University of Denver, decided to get into the bar business and bought a watering hole at 404 Broadway from a man who'd opened it on the day Prohibition ended. At the time, Jerry was too young to own a bar; he had to use his uncle's name on the liquor license. But Club 404 has always been Jerry Feld's place, and you can still find him there most days, overseeing operations and chatting with the customers.
And you can count on seeing him a lot at Club 404 this week. Because at midnight on Thursday, March 17, Jerry Feld will turn eighty -- and the day also happens to be the sixtieth anniversary of his buying the 404.
Given the St. Patrick's Day connection, this has always been a big holiday at the bar, with corned beef and cabbage included all month on the long list of specials written on the blackboard. And tomorrow, there will be cake and toasts, too, since Jerry has planned his dialysis treatments so he can be in the 404 all day Thursday and Friday -- although not quite at 7 a.m., when this Denver institution opens its doors.
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Harriet Feld, Jerry's wife, still works at the restaurant, too, alongside their daughter. She was dating Jerry back when he bought the place, and never imagined that she'd be marrying into the restaurant business for sixty years -- and counting. "It's been a long run, it's been a good run," she says. "We're plugging along still."
There have been rough spots along the road: a planned sale was put on hold by the economy, the restaurant's longtime chef passed away, and last fall Harriet and Jerry lost their son. But they keep going. "He always finds the good in something," Harriet says of her husband. "He always finds the full cup."
So let's all raise one to him this week: Happy eightieth birthday, Jerry.