The next sunrise service at the Lakeview Lounge is still more than a month away, but a new day is already dawning at this neighborhood bar, a classic dive in a city where such spots are an endangered species.
The Lakeview, which occupies a prime piece of real estate at 2375 Sheridan Boulevard in Edgewater, boasts one of the best views in town: Sitting at the bar, you can gaze through the windows across Sloan's Lake to the Denver skyline. And twice a year, on the last day of Daylight Saving Time in November, and again on the first day of Daylight Saving Time in March, those who worship great saloons have made a habit of coming in when the bar opens at 7 a.m., grabbing a drink, and consuming it while they watch the sun pop through the skyscrapers to the east.
Inside, the Lakeview remains a blast from the past. Although the women's bathroom has been updated and the shuffleboard game moved, not much has changed over the decades, and generations of elbows have made their marks in the linoleum on the bar. The stand-alone building dates back to the ’40s, when it got its start as a creamery. In the early ’50s, it became the Circle Drive-In, a hamburger joint, and then in 1957 it achieved its highest use as a bar. It started out as the High Skipper, turned into Sloopy's in the early ’60s, then became Cindy's, and finally was dubbed the Lakeview Lounge in 1975 under new owner Jerry Golden. (The building itself has been owned by a two-family partnership since the ’60s.)
Golden sold it to Jack Simon a decade ago. Like Golden, Simon had grown up in the area and started working at the Lakeview as a bartender in the 1980s, then bought the place when Golden retired. And now the Lakeview has changed hands again, but the ownership is staying in the neighborhood: Eugene "Geno" and Jill Martinez have a new, five-year lease on the building.
Geno started frequenting the Lakeview about 25 years ago, when he was teaching up the road and would meet a friend there who was working farther south. Geno's grandfather lived in the neighborhood, and two decades ago, the Martinezes moved a block away from where Golden lived, to the block where Simon had grown up. "He could name every family that lived on the block in the ’70s," Geno says.
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Jill, who's a school counselor, started working at the Lakeview as a part-time bartender about seven years ago. She and Geno had approached Jack a few times about taking over the place, "but he wasn't interested," Geno recalls. "We didn't say anything for a few years, then out of the blue, he came to us."
The rumor had gotten out that Jack was selling, and regulars "were worried it would be a corporation," Geno says. But their fears disappeared when the Martinezes took over on February 1, because while the Lakeview has new owners, Jill and Geno have no plans to change the place.
"Well, maybe a new CD or two on the jukebox," Geno admits. "But we want to keep it the same."
Cheers to that.