Openings and Closings

Campus Lounge Closes for the Third Time in Three Years

The final iteration of the Campus Lounge when it opened in October 2018 under Dan and Jeff Nickless.
The final iteration of the Campus Lounge when it opened in October 2018 under Dan and Jeff Nickless. Mark Antonation
A neighborhood bar that lasted for more than forty years under a single owner has not been able to sustain itself under two new regimes over the past three years. The Campus Lounge, originally launched by Jim Wiste in 1976 in a longtime tavern space, has gone out of business for the second time since Wiste sold the bar in 2016.

A message on the Campus Lounge website reads "Campus Lounge has closed for business. We appreciate your support along the way."
The Campus Lounge as it looked when original owner Jim Wiste solde it in 2016. - WESTWORD
The Campus Lounge as it looked when original owner Jim Wiste solde it in 2016.
Westword
click to enlarge The 2017 update of the Campus Lounge sported goldfish above the entrance, as an ode to the goldfish that used to live in an aquarium in Wiste's original restaurant. - DANIELLE LIRETTE
The 2017 update of the Campus Lounge sported goldfish above the entrance, as an ode to the goldfish that used to live in an aquarium in Wiste's original restaurant.
Danielle Lirette
click to enlarge The Campus Lounge was bright and sunny under its second owners when it reopened in 2017. - DANIELLLE LIRETTE
The Campus Lounge was bright and sunny under its second owners when it reopened in 2017.
Daniellle Lirette
After forty years, Wiste retired from the bar business and sold his watering hole to Charlie Woolley and Dan Landes, who reopened the place with a new look and modernized menu in late 2017, but the changes were too big for the neighborhood — the TVs and hockey memorabilia were gone and the sun streamed into the once dim and dingy bar.

Wiste passed away at the beginning of 2018, and Landes shut down the Campus Lounge just a few months later, noting at the time that he realized the changes "read as pretentious" to regular customers.

click to enlarge The final iteration of the Campus Lounge when it opened in October 2018 under Dan and Jeff Nickless. - MARK ANTONATION
The final iteration of the Campus Lounge when it opened in October 2018 under Dan and Jeff Nickless.
Mark Antonation
click to enlarge The sports theme returned in October 2018. - MARK ANTONATION
The sports theme returned in October 2018.
Mark Antonation
In October 2018, Dan and Jeff Nickless, who had roots on the block, resurrected the Campus Lounge, returning it to its sports-bar past with TVs and Colorado Avalanche jerseys lining the walls. Wiste had been a Pioneer hockey player during his University of Denver days, so it felt right to give a nod to the founder.


But it wasn't enough — and now the bar is dark again. The Campus Lounge website reveals no future plans; the Facebook page and phone message do not mention the closure.

click to enlarge This is how many regulars remember the original Campus Lounge. - BILL CHESTER
This is how many regulars remember the original Campus Lounge.
Bill Chester
The demographics of the Washington Park and Bonnie Brae neighborhoods have changed over the years, and the strip of retail shops and restaurants on University Boulevard between Exposition and Ohio avenues seems less stable than it once was.

Across the street, the Bonnie Brae Tavern has been a fixture since 1934, but earlier this year was granted non-historic status, so the building is no longer protected from demolition. And the Saucy Noodle, at 55 years old, is not getting any younger.

Change is slow on this side of town — but it came too quickly at the Campus Lounge.
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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation