At one time, six establishments bearing the name Pitchers Sports Bar and Grill populated metro Denver and Fort Collins, according to Robin Metoyer, who owns one of the last. Her Aurora outpost of the former chain has been around for more than thirty years; she was a longtime employee before taking over the place a year and a half ago.
A group of my friends (one of whom once frequented the only other Pitchers left, an unassociated Fort Collins watering hole) and I descended on Pitchers and found Metoyer behind the bar, keeping the place going strong for the many neighborhood regulars who love to come in for cheap drinks and free pool every weekday. On this particular night, a few older gentlemen occupied one side of the wraparound bar, evenly spaced with seats between them and staring intently at the Rockies game. Next to us, a small gaggle of men and women shared nachos and pitchers of beer, conversing alternately in Spanish and English; one of them let us know that a highlight of the place is the reliably good food.
The food may be a draw, but sports are the obvious main event here. One back room is "Steelers Country," according to one of our new acquaintances, and another section is decorated for Green Bay Packers fans (there's plenty of space between the two areas to maintain neutral territory). Hometown teams get most of the love, though, and both the Rockies and Nuggets were playing on TVs around the room that night. Pitchers is also a destination for NASCAR fans; racing schedules and memorabilia are plastered all over the walls.
Aurora is home to Dry Dock Brewing Company, which fills several tap handles at Pitchers. So you can order a "Hopricot" here, a Dry Dock-approved mix of Apricot Blonde and Hop Abomination IPA. The food menu is extensive and includes breakfast served all day, every day, which was tempting, but we opted for the skillet nachos. Rather than fully constructed nachos, these come as a basket of tortilla chips and a cast-iron skillet filled with layers of refried beans, melty cheese, sour cream, jalapeños, black olives and tomatoes. While not your standard nacho setup, it does allow you to scoop the perfect amount of toppings with each chip.
Metoyer filled us in on specials and events going down at Pitchers, including free pool every weekday, karaoke every Friday and Saturday on a small corner stage (which occasionally also holds live bands), and Rock 'n' Roll Bingo on Wednesday and Saturday nights. On Fridays and Saturdays, the Over the Top Poker League puts on a fierce tournament. Coming up on July 13, the annual Ride for the Stars charity bash will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation, with a motorcycle and car show, poker tournament and fun run.
The front room at Pitchers isn't very big; in fact, the most spacious part of this strip-mall bar is around a corner and past the Steelers fan room, which opens onto another bar, several booths and pool tables, and a row of arcade games, including video boxing, Golden Tee, Sopranos and Attack From Mars pinball machines, a machine with several classic arcade options, and a foosball table. Two small patios facing the parking lot were filled mostly with smokers drifting in and out of the bar during our visit.
It was a Tuesday night so I exited early, after realizing our nachos had been devoured. But a few of my compatriots stayed on for another round, enjoying the warm welcome from the regulars, who may have been Packers or Steelers fans or NASCAR aficionados, but treated us like members of one big Aurora family.
Pitchers Sports Bar and Grill is located at 1670 South Chambers Road in Aurora and is open from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. For more information, call 303-751-7115 or visit the bar's website.