A doctor friend of mine suggested that we stop in at a neighborhood on the Anschutz Medical Campus called the Cedar Creek Pub, owned by Scott Procop, who was behind the bar the day we visited. Seven years ago, when Procop opened the bar with friends Hector Segura and Tony Fitzgerald — both of whom he'd met while working for Ted's Montana Grill — he named it partly in honor of his home state of Ohio. The "cedar" part of the name is a nod to Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio, which is known as the Roller Coaster Capital of the World. The trio decided to include "pub" in the name because "corporate bars never have pub in the name," and they were setting out to create something different than a Ted's Montana Grill.
The space was built in 2011, along with the apartments above and around the bar. The interior is spacious and clean, with a modern but unpretentious look that's welcoming but just a little upscale. It was too gloomy outside during our visit to take advantage of the small front patio, so we snagged spots at the shiny bar topped by two large TVs. Because of its proximity to so many healthcare facilities and offices, I kept referring to the pub as "the doctor bar," anticipating that it would be full of hot doctors like something out of Grey's Anatomy. But our visit was on a Sunday, a quiet day with few customers of any kind, much less hot doctors.
Over some fries and wine for me, and beers and salad for my friend (because we were being classy and healthy), Procop told us all about his adventures in business ownership in Aurora. For example, the bar is strategically located above Montview Boulevard, because apparently below Montview, the medical campus is supposed to be "dry," and no liquor licenses are granted to businesses there. Procop's wife, Cami, owns Ursula Brewing across the street, but surprisingly there are no beers from Ursula on tap at the pub, because the couple prefers to have each establishment operate as a separate entity. But tap takeovers from other local brewers happen periodically at Cedar Creek, and Procop and the team pride themselves on representing Colorado, with products from local distilleries, breweries, ranches, farms and bakeries. The menu is a mix of upmarket and casual, with steaks, elk burgers, salads and quesadillas, along with craft beers and creative cocktails from the bar. Several menu items are named for roller coasters at the aforementioned Cedar Point: the Gatekeeper margarita, the Maverick chicken quesadilla, and the Gemini, a steak dish.
Procop also gave us some hot takes on the future of the city of Aurora, noting that "it's going to be bigger than Denver," with evidence coming in the form of the pending Gaylord Hotel mega-plex (with a rumored 75-foot TV that will take up a whole wall at one of the bars) and the fact that Anschutz is set to become the second-biggest medical campus in the country when it's fully built out. My friend added some color commentary about how the land for the campus was purchased for a dollar, and said that Building 500 on the medical campus can't be torn down because it's where President Eisenhower stayed while recovering from a heart attack in 1955.
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The neighborhood and clientele comprise a mixture of health-care professionals and patients, med students, researchers, folks who work in administration on the campus, and families and single folks who live in the surrounding residential areas of northern Aurora. It's not nearly as full of kids and babies as Stapleton, but the bar is definitely a family-friendly spot to get some lunch or dinner. Procop and I agreed that there is sometimes such a thing as too many small children in a bar, and we have both witnessed it at certain Stapleton bars.
A small group of older guys watched an NBA game at the bar, and a few locals (or perhaps families of hospital patients) lingered in the dining room booths. Weekdays are really the main draw here, with trivia on Wednesdays (including special themed nights for TV shows or other pop-culture phenomena). Happy hour runs from 3 to 6 p.m. every day, with $1 off wells, house wines and select drafts. We'd hit happy hour on this particular Sunday, and my happy-hour glasses of house pinot grigio went down extra smooth because they were extra cheap.
Maybe next time I go, the pub will be extra full of hot doctors.
Cedar Creek Pub is located at 2100 Ursula Street, Aurora, and is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. Call 303-537-4124 or visit the pub's website for more details.