A relative newcomer to the neighborhood bar scene, just celebrating one year in business this past March, the Kennedy Station in southeast Denver is quickly gathering a following. When a friend and I visited the bright, clean, newly remodeled space that was previously Doc's Pub, it was pleasantly full of folks eating, drinking and playing competitive darts.
It was early on a Saturday night when we went in for a drink and a bite. We headed in past the spacious patio next to the entrance where a few gentlemen were sitting, skirted the many darts players along one wall, and wove between several larger tables full of groups of guys and gals reflecting the diversity of the surrounding neighborhood (right on the border of Denver and Aurora) — as well as a diversity in their sports team affinities, based on the various hats and jerseys they were rocking.
My preference is always for a seat at the bar, so that's where we posted up, making it easier to chat with the small crew of ladies behind the high metal bar top. They were quick with the drinks and food orders; among the selection of craft and local beers, I was drawn to one of the most summery beers ever: Leinenkugel's Grapefruit Shandy, which hit the spot on a hot day. Amy Winehouse's version of the song "Valerie" jangled from the jukebox, and several folks in the bar began singing along. Between the bartenders, beer and good vibes, I could tell I liked this place already.
The menu at the Kennedy Station goes beyond standard bar food, with classics like fried cheese curds, fish and chips, sliders and brats of all sorts, but also flatbreads and creative burgers such as the Elvis burger with peanut butter, bacon and provolone cheese, and the Drunk BBQ burger, which comes topped with bacon, barbecue sauce, onion rings and green chile. Daily specials add even more options; a chicken kabob dish was the Saturday dish on my visit. We ordered wings and Philly cheesesteak sliders, which were both pretty tasty. General manager Anneka Kern let us know that all the food is made in-house except the fries.
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Kern also filled us in on the happenings and the crowd at Kennedy Station. Happy hour is a lengthy four hours, from 3 to 7 p.m. every weekday. Darts tournaments keep the place busy on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and there are also pool tournaments on Wednesdays and Sundays. Sunday night is Service Industry Night, with karaoke at 9 p.m. and drink specials for folks working hard for their money at nearby restaurants and bars. The kitchen stays open late as well, which is great for customers coming off late shifts elsewhere. Also available any day of the week, the "Roll-a-day" betting game, a Yahtzee-style game where customers pay $1, $2 or $3 to roll different numbers of dice for prizes such as $20 and a shot for four-of-a-kind, or a hefty chunk of cash from the pot for eight-of-a-kind.
On weekends, golfers from Kennedy Golf Course next door come in to cool off, but during the week, according to our bartender, the place fills up with office workers and business owners from the office parks and shopping centers nearby, even during lunch, since the kitchen opens at 11 a.m. Chris Robinson and Joe Tatarka, who own the Kennedy Station, are both military veterans with years of experience in the hospitality industry.
We didn't dare interrupt the darts players (people who throw pointy things in public are not to be messed with), but the other regulars and the bartenders were all happy to engage in conversation with a couple of newcomers. Just starting its second year in the bar game, the Kennedy Station already feels like a worn-in and welcoming neighborhood joint, whether you're here for darts, sports, good food or good company.
The Kennedy Station is located at 10890 East Dartmouth Avenue and is open from 11 a.m. to midnight every day. For more information, call 303-787-7741 or visit the bar's website.