Chopper's Sports Grill, at 80 South Madison Street in Cherry Creek, is an "old Denver" sort of place. Cherry Creek itself is sort of an old classic when it comes to neighborhoods, with parts experiencing a new development boom, while other blocks — like those closer to Colorado Boulevard — seem stuck in time. I've been to Choppers for private parties in the back room, mostly celebrating over-forty guests of honor, as well as for lunch and happy hour, but decided to revisit the place on a recent Sunday.
As a friend and I entered the large bar filled with wooden booths, there was a pretty good crowd of dad-looking guys dressed for golf and drinking beers. The side room had a few younger bros taking advantage of the Golden Tee golf game, placed alongside a Silver Strike video bowling game and a pool table. There weren't any particularly notable sporting events going on at the time, so conversation was easy because the sound level was relatively quiet. Flavored vodka and Bud, Miller and Coors pitchers were on special, so we opted for a round of vodka drinks.
Why is the bar called Chopper's? It was opened in 1996 by a group of gentlemen that included Bob "Chopper" Travaglini, the late Denver Nuggets trainer who was famous for being a confidant to many famous basketball players and an innovator in the field of sports medicine. Prior to that, the location was a famous singles bar called Rick's Cafe, which President Jimmy Carter once visited in the ’70s to promote solar power — because the bar had a solar-powered dishwasher, which was fairly innovative in a time in history when people still used the term "singles bar." Chopper's became a successful sports bar under the ownership of Travaglini and company, with an emphasis on broadcasting all kinds of athletic contests and a menu that was a step above the usual pub grub. A little over two years ago, the Tavern Hospitality Group, owners of the Tavern Uptown, Tavern Downtown and Tavern everywhere else, purchased Chopper's and did some renovations and menu upgrades.
We also talked to manager John Kelley, who told us about some new additions at Chopper's, such as the re-configured front patio that is now a place to bring your best Cherry Creek purse dog, or regular dog, as the case may be. Or even without a furry friend, it's a really nice patio — very shady and private. Kelley is also gearing up for the bar's support of this Saturday's 10th Annual Golf Tournament to benefit Eddie's Kids, an organization that provides tickets to sporting events for kids, families, and military personnel. Another summertime tradition at Chopper's that still has one week left is Friday night live music with Dave Roppolo from 7 to 10:30 p.m.
So if you want the best parts of the Cherry Creek experience, like the dog-friendliness, high-tech TV setups and better-than-average food in a casual and non-pretentious setting, Chopper's Sports Grill is your spot. You might not find a cougar, but you will find some touchdown sirens and a relaxed spot for food and drink.