Take an end-of-the-summer road trip down Colorado, Denver's boulevard of dreams

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The thing is that this Starbucks, astride a big-box bookstore, seaside to an unremarkable parking lot, just may be the most diverse coffeehouse in Colorado. Part of that may be because the shop stays open until 2 a.m. and then stays closed only until 4:30 a.m.; part of it may be its relative proximity to both the University of Denver and the diverse neighborhoods of west Aurora. Whatever the reason, this Starbucks can look like a veritable United Nations. Late at night, the tables remain filled with students hunched over laptops and text books, some with requisite white earbuds plugged into the sides of their heads, others, the females, wearing head scarves, the fabric bunching loosely around their shoulders. At other tables, twenty-somethings chat energetically in a variety of languages, including Korean, Spanish, Polish and some from North Africa and India. They drink grande coffees and concoctions towering with whipped cream and eat pre-made sandwiches from the Starbucks case. Friends arrive, and they rise to greet with kisses, left cheek, right cheek, left cheek. This could be a Starbucks in London, or Singapore. But out on Colorado, the cars don't stop. There will be another Starbucks coming up soon enough.

— Jared Jacang Maher

6:35 a.m. 700 Colorado Boulevard

This day has gone from pancakes to pancakes, from the dulling and dumbing-down of a classic Colorado Boulevard oasis for those finding themselves on the wrong side of last call to a real gentrification and an honest improvement: the recycling of a defunct Boston Market that never did anything good for anybody into a second outlet of Jon Schlegel's breakfast juggernaut and temple of pancakes, Snooze.

The thing that people will tell you about Snooze? You've got to get there early. If you want a table without a wait, if you don't want to wind up waiting inside the glass fish bowl of the new Colorado Boulevard location, smelling everyone else's pancakes without being able to have any of your own, you've got to get up really fucking early, find your pants and get a hustle on before the sun is even decently over the horizon.

Which is what I have done, because I like Snooze and I love pancakes, but don't fancy waiting on either of them. The doors at this Snooze open at six-thirty in the morning. I roll up just a couple of minutes later, and I am not even the first person here.

Snooze 7Co, in the house parlance, is bright and it is cool. It has the same nouveau/retro diner vibe as the original on Larimer Street — drawn straight out of Schlegel's worship at the altar of gentle curves and high-grade Formica — and an identical menu full of half-bent takes on classic American breakfast fare. But most important, it is busy, just like everyone says it is. I get a good seat along the wall, but before long, I am walled in by neighbors, by doctors and nurses from the hospital up the street (half of them dragging and just coming off shift, the other half energized and just ready to go on) and businesspeople stopping off for a quick hit of black coffee and pineapple upside-down pancakes before making for the office. Soon the floor is full and the bar beginning to stack up, and I am eavesdropping on two conversations at once — two old ladies talking about Jesus on one side of me, two old men discussing bank fraud on the other — while the servers quarter the floor and Schlegel himself moves through the crowd pressing the flesh, welcoming guests, chatting with regulars.

This stretch of Colorado Boulevard is changing almost faster than you can track. There are new condos just down the street; a hotel is slated to break ground next year in the space that Annie's vacated. And now there's Snooze, which is beginning to look like ground zero in the battle for the soul of this particular piece of blacktop. By 8 a.m., you can see the temper of change coming to Colorado Boulevard and, for the time it takes to devour a stack of pancakes, peer into the future. — Jason Sheehan

For more photos, go to westword.com. Contact the authors at [email protected].

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