Openings and Closings

Boulder's Daddy Bruce's Bar-B-Que will close, ending a long family legacy

One of Denver's most iconic hometown heroes was Bruce Randolph Senior, a Five Points restaurateur who ran a soul food restaurant, Daddy Bruce's, and a legacy that has endured for nearly fifty years.

Randolph Senior, considered one of the godfathers of barbecue in Denver, got his start using a self-engineered pit at his restaurant, which he opened in 1963. But he also left a legacy that goes far beyond good 'cue: The pit master used his enterprise to feed the hungry, doling out thousands of free meals to the homeless and cooking an annual feast for the homeless every year on Thanksgiving. For his work, the city named a stretch of 34th Avenue named after him in 1987. He died in 1994.

But even after his death, his name lived on: Bruce Randolph Junior kept his father's legacy alive in Boulder, opening Daddy Bruce's Bar-B-Que, a barbecue shack using the same recipes -- which originally came from Randolph Sr.'s grandmother -- at Arapahoe and 20th more than three decades ago. In addition to the barbecue sauce-slathered ribs that fed students and residents in Boulder, the son also fed the homeless and hungry. "Nobody who comes here and needs anything will leave hungry," the restaurateur told Marty Jones, who wrote a story for Westword in 2002. "I have plenty."

According to the Boulder Daily Camera, though, Bruce Jr., who is 85, has cut a deal to sell his property to a real estate group, which will lease it out.

Bruce blames the decision on the recession, telling the Camera, "There was an accumulation of bills and no income coming in. You could sit here and let them turn the lights out on you, or you got to make a decision."

But since the real estate group didn't buy the rights to the name or business, the restaurant will its last meals this week before closing for good, sending Bruce into retirement, and ending the family's restaurant-owning legacy.