Word of Mouth

Reader: The Campus Lounge Can't Get a Break

Reader: The Campus Lounge Can't Get a Break
Westword
Over the weekend of July 4, this message appeared on the Campus Lounge website: "Campus Lounge has closed for business. We appreciate your support along the way."

That marked the third time the Campus had gone out of business in as many years. University of Denver alum Jim Wiste had taken over a longtime neighborhood bar in 1976; a Pioneer hockey player, he put the emphasis on sports, as well as cheap steaks and beer. In 2016, on its fortieth anniversary, he sold the place (building included) to Dan Landes and Charlie Woolley, who did a major renovation of the space with a modern twist that didn't work for the neighborhood. In October 2018, Dan and Jeff Nickless, who had roots on the block, took over the restaurant/bar and returned the Campus Lounge to its sports-bar roots.

But it wasn't enough. Could anything work in this spot at 701 South University? Readers have plenty of thoughts. Says Kelly:
This place can't get a break? A good operator would kill in that location.
Adds Kevin: 
Never should have played with it. When the old owners sold, the new ones should have just transitioned to the way it was. It'll work if people make it a nice neighborhood tavern again.
Notes Alex: 
No one fell off the barstools after the reno.
Says Rick:
 Tried to support the last iteration, couldn’t find a place to park. Ever.
Explains Jimmy: 
The two reasons the Campus closed are high rent and high labor. When Jim Wiste owned the bar, he also owned the building. He was able to keep prices reasonable enough to have a steady clientele, and when the new owners stepped in they weren’t in a position to do so. No more $6 pitchers of Coors Light. No more $9.95 steak dinners. Moving forward it shouldn’t be all about the cheap food and drinks, but that WAS the clientele. Only way this place makes it back to the glory days is if the landlord is willing to give the new tenants a generous under market discount on rent. Maybe then, and only then, could the new bar owners lure back the regular drinkers who packed the place from lunch until happy hour, all of whom have since moved on to surrounding bars.
Responds Dutch: 
I respectfully disagree. The new generation of kids don’t drink like the previous ones used to. I wish we could resurrect places like the old Campus Lounge and Rodney’s, but you need drinkers seven nights a week. Weekend warriors don’t pay the bills anymore. Sad sad sad. I try to do my part. I don’t see a sweetheart rent deal here, but I hope you’re right and I’m wrong. If I’m wrong. I will see you there, doing my part!
Suggests Shonna: 
A project for Bar Rescue.
Replies John: 
Dumbest fucking show involving the industry on TV and no one who’s been in the industry more than fifteen minutes takes it seriously.
Concludes Shonna: 
So what? So is the Apprentice, and now the dumbest fucking show is in the White House.
But back to the Campus:

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun