The only reason I knew Doctor Proctor's Lounge in Glendale existed was because my friend used to date a guy who lived in an apartment complex around the corner. The bar is hidden in plain sight, with only a small overhead neon sign that simply reads "BAR." You have to look closely to see the painted lettering on the front door letting you know the actual name of the bar is Doctor Proctor's. It's in a strip mall just off of Colorado Boulevard, at 4201 East Mississippi Avenue, right next to a liquor store, a Chinese buffet, and a children's book store called the Bookies that my friends who are teachers get overly excited about.
Upon entering the cavernous, dark space on a Friday evening, I navigated through the tables full of old men drinking pitchers of Blue Moon, thirty-something guys in backward (and some forward) baseball caps talking about work, and couples eating chicken wings. I found a spot at a long wooden counter overlooking the lower level of the bar, which contained two rooms filled with pool tables, one foosball table, a giant Jenga set on a table and a small stage. As I waited for a friend who lives nearby to arrive, I drank a well vodka soda (I just made the cutoff for happy hour — more on that later) and further surveyed the scene. The pool players down below looked serious; some guys with mullets and dad jeans lined up their shots, while a group of Latina women seemed very much at home, as though the pool table they occupied was their table every Friday night. Billiard leagues are big at Doctor Proctor's, and some of the house teams have done pretty well in competitive play, if the plaques on the walls are any indication. If you have the time and inclination, you can even play for free every day, from opening at 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The rest of the decor consists of the usual neon signs advertising beers and sports teams that you find in most bars, but with an unusually large quantity of framed posters of ’80s-era Nuggets teams and players. I later found out from owner Diane Mitchell that her family members are huge Nuggets fans and used to have season tickets. In fact, back in the ’70s, when the Nuggets were in the American Basketball Association, her mother, Arlene Proctor, was the secretary of the booster club for the team.
Mitchell's family has owned Doctor Proctor's for almost 36 years. Her parents, Bud and Arlene Proctor, opened the bar during Glendale's heyday of nightlife in the ’80s. Diane grew up working at the bar and fully took over as owner eighteen years ago. Nowadays, it's one of the few neighborhood bars left in an area where a once nightlife-heavy zone has given way to blocks packed full of fast-casual restaurants and box stores. Mitchell says the name of the bar is not only a tribute to the family name, but the "Doctor" part is a joke so that people can say they are "going to the Doctor's" to get a shot to feel better. There are definitely plenty of shots to choose from at Doctor Proctor's, and some of them might just make you feel better.
My friend arrived at the bar, and we ordered her a drink and some nachos to share. The nachos were of the variety that involve a fair amount of iceberg lettuce, which I could do without, but they have the right ratio of cheese and chicken and beans, so I just focused on that part and let the lettuce fall where it may. The drinks are strong and still cheap even after the $4 well special during happy hour ends at 7 p.m. every weekday — and that's impressive, considering that happy hour itself begins at 11 a.m. The rest of a litany of specials is brightly illuminated on a glowing display on the back wall. Options range from $3 for practically anything during Friday night Ladies' Night, to $3 Bud and Bud Light to go with Thursday night karaoke, to Sunday Funday, with $4 Mimosas, Screwdrivers, and Bloody Marys all day until 3 p.m. No matter what night you pick, you can probably get some sort of booze for $4 or less at Doctor Proctor's.
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SHOW ME HOW
My friend and I sipped our drinks and caught up, with a few interruptions from one of the mulletted fellas playing pool right below our feet on the downstairs level. He repeatedly asked us if we were watching the NBA game projected on the large screen above the stage, because he wanted to put some rock and roll on the jukebox. We told him no and that he should go ahead and play what he wanted. He also told us we were beautiful but that he has a wife — and then he mentioned something about "feminine wiles," which isn't really a term you hear much anymore. During the entire time we were at the bar, this gentleman never actually played anything on the jukebox, and the audio of the Celtics-Cavaliers game continued to blare on the speakers beneath the din of conversation.
Service at the bar was efficient despite the crowd, and the bartenders looked appreciative when I told them I was hoping to write a profile, giving me the sense that this no-frills little bar doesn't get much attention. Like many bars I write about, Doctor Proctor's doesn't maintain a website, just a Facebook page. The majority of the posts on the page are written endearingly in all caps and full of emojis, mostly sports-related. It's basically like reading texts from your mom, but about drink specials and Rockies games. Speaking of Rockies games, all the hometown sports are huge at Doctor Proctor's, but Mitchell says the staff aims to please everyone, so they are willing to play other games on one of the bar's nine screens (eight TVs and a projection screen).
Over the years, Mitchell has appreciated her longtime staff and regulars, but she's also getting to know some new neighbors. The various newer apartment complexes nearby largely house students and folks just out of college, so the crowd at the bar seems to be getting younger as time goes on. It doesn't look like Doctor Proctor's is going anywhere anytime soon, so it should be around for the next generation of people who want to watch Broncos games, meet their neighbors or shoot some pool. If you pay close attention and look below the red awnings at the back of this unassuming strip mall in Glendale, you might just find yourself a good time at Doctor Proctor's Lounge.