Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Glendale Mines the Past, Serving Up Memories of the Colorado Mine Company

Glendale officials last week announced their plans for a 22-acre project, Glendale 180, that promises to return that little town surrounded by Denver not to its squeaky-clean origins as a dairy a century ago, but to the swinging ’70s. Glendale 180 is slated to include 25 bars and restaurants, a boutique hotel, a cinema, dance clubs and retail shops — and, thanks to a 2011 state law “drafted by Glendale,” according to that town’s officials, a “common consumption area” that will allow patrons to carry to-go cups of alcohol throughout. “We’ve designed a place for maximum happiness,” architect David Glover said in announcing the plan.

But while Glendale is aiming for the future, it’s also trying to recapture the town’s heyday of “fine dining at the Colorado Mining Company, spending Saturdays at the Disney-backed Celebrity Sports Center, waiting in line to watch the original Star Wars on the Cooper Theater’s curved screen, or dancing all night at The Lift,” according to the project’s promotional materials. All of those businesses are long gone — but definitely not forgotten, even if Glendale today muffs the Colorado Mine Company’s historic name. The restaurant lives on as the creator of Fool's Gold, Elvis Presley's favorite sandwich, but there's a lot more to remember.

We asked Elise Cagan, Westword’s restaurant critic thirty years ago, for her thoughts on the project. “Anyone who equates ‘fine dining at Colorado Mining [sic] Company’ with anything that uses Disney in the same sentence doesn’t know what he/she is talking about,” she says. “It is like the gentrification of 42nd Street in NYC. You either want a family-fun place (not that there is anything wrong with that), or you want to relive Colorado Mine dining, where ‘smarmy’ wasn’t a scary word. It used to be fun to be dirty. But not anymore….

“The Colorado Mine Company was one of those places that wasn’t what it seemed. It was a restaurant where no one I knew ate a meal. Buck and Cindy Scott — the well-groomed, handsy proprietors — made sure there was always a martini in your hand and appetizers in front of you. Off-duty cops, big-name athletes, some unctuous types you’d never question and journalists alike were all ushered into a back, grotto-like room. Everybody was everyone else’s best friend, although you’d never recognize them during daylight hours. It was the night’s last watering hole. There was always a sense that something dark and untoward could happen at any second. It was the kind of place your mother had warned you about, making it that much more fun to hang out there.”

Bring it on, Glendale!

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun