In July 2016, Jim Wiste — a University of Denver alum and former professional hockey player — marked forty years as owner of the Campus Lounge, a sports-happy watering hole at the corner of South University and Exposition Avenue. But he was already making plans to sell the spot, which had been a bar in one form or another for almost thirty years before he bought it.
"I'm ready to just be a customer," he explained, when word got out that real estate developer Charlie Woolley and restaurateur Dan Landes, founder of City, O' City, would be taking it over.
Wiste's Campus Lounge closed at the end of September 2016; Landes and Woolley spent more than a year updating and renovating the building before it reopened in November, with the neon Campus Lounge sign still burning bright.
Although Wiste, who lived just a few blocks from the bar, got a chance to see the changes, he didn't get to be a customer for long. He passed away on January 2.
On reopening night of the Campus Lounge, Landes was able to sit down with Wiste in what he terms "almost a father-and-son moment."
"He was filled with so much joy that he was able to pass this thing on, and it meant so much to me that he was able to pass the reins," Landes recalls. "The place has changed, but the spirit is the same. It was an honor to work with him and see this thing through."
Wiste will be remembered at a celebration of his life at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, January 11, at the University of Denver's Magness Arena. In the meantime, stop by the Campus Lounge and raise a glass to Wiste and the spirit of a great neighborhood joint.