I was hanging out on a recent Saturday with a friend in Montbello, killing time before a baby shower we were both attending. Sometimes you need a drink before a baby shower, so we scouted out our options. The neighborhood bar scene isn't huge in Montbello, since it's a family-oriented suburb of housing developments, strip malls and chain restaurants. You can count the bars inside Chili's or Bar Louie, but for a straight-up, locally owned watering hole, our best option was in one of nearby Commerce City's finest hangouts, the Halftime Sports Bar.
Inside the Halftime, a large and diverse gathering of day drinkers regarded us with a friendly yet detached demeanor. It was clear we were the only ones in there who didn't know everyone else —- yet. We snagged a couple of seats at the edge of the long bar, and two beers from the selection of drafts and bottles (all priced to move). The bartender, Heather Snyder, was very warm, and she filled us in on the highlights of the bar's sixty-year history; it was owned by the same folks for more than eighteen years as the Halftime Sports Bar, with new owners taking over just two years ago. Snyder lives in the neighborhood and was a regular customer at the Halftime before she approached the owners about taking a chance on an untrained bartender. They took her up on the offer, and she moved to the other side of the bar five years ago. It's a family atmosphere, she says, which is a hallmark of neighborhood hole-in-the-wall spots like this one.
However, the term hole-in-the-wall might not be entirely apt for the Halftime. Although much of the bar has stayed the same over the years - there's wood paneling, a wall painted to resemble bricks, ’70s-era carpeting and bar stools bolted to the floor — everything is well-maintained. And there are quite a few updates, such as huge new TVs, chalkboard paint on several walls and pillars (which are covered with artistic masterpieces and messages from patrons), and a back patio with canvas sun shades, a stage and brand-new horseshoe pits. A portion of the patio is enclosed, painted orange and filled with Broncos signage, including a Bonus Hole coin game decked out in blue and orange. An older gentleman enjoying the patio smoked his cigarette and chatted with us about how the Broncos will always get more love than the Rockies in this town, even if the Rox were to win the World Series.
Inside, there's a stage and a well-worn dance floor, indicating an active nighttime scene. A video bowling game, jukebox and popcorn machine (in case you get hungry from busting awesome dance moves) round out the decor. There isn't a full kitchen, but somehow the Halftime manages to serve pizza, burgers, burritos and taquitos, the last of which made for a pleasantly crispy (rather than squishy) bar snack, served with both salsa and ranch dressing (a clever move I thoroughly approved).
Snyder told us the main events are poker with cash pots on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, and open-mic jams hosted by a local jam band that welcomes everyone to join in on stage every Thursday and Saturday. The bar also hosts the occasional rock or blues band that comes through to play a set. Big nights coincide with country-music concerts and other events at Dick's Sporting Goods Park a mile down the road. "Phish Weekend" is notoriously busy at the Halftime; fans who follow the band around the country back the place whenever they're in town. Pre- or post-game Rapids supporters also trickle in, but they're not a huge part of the action.
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The true attraction here is simple: It's all about friendly camaraderie and cheap drinks. The prices are indeed bargains; there isn't much that sells for more than $4, and specials include $10 buckets on Wednesdays and $7 pitchers. "It's just a little neighborhood hangout bar," according to Snyder, one that happens to open at 7 a.m. for early drinks.
So next time you're on your way to Dick's Sporting Goods Park, or if you live in nearby Montbello or Commerce City and are looking for a new neighborhood watering hole in a part of town that's a little light on bars, stop by the Halftime Sports Bar. Whether it's halftime, jam session time, poker time, or just hangout time, it's a comfy spot that's easy on the wallet.
Halftime Sports Bar is located at 6051 Quebec Street in Commerce City and is open from 7 a.m to 2 a.m. daily. Call the bar at 303-288-4253 for more details.