Because I live on the other side of town, I decided to make a journey over to Mead Street on a recent Sunday afternoon to connect with a friend who lives in nearby Sunnyside. Football games were on TV, people with kids were having drinks or lunch, and the bar itself was lined with regulars chatting and drinking. The general age of the patrons was over thirty; many of the folks in the bar were what another friend of mine likes to call "Denver Dads." Denver Dads are attractive, outdoorsy-looking guys who wear hats with fish or local beer logos on them and are generally found pushing a stroller or holding the hand of their cute toddler or ten-year-old. Many of them live in Highland; another prime place to spot them is at Little Man Ice Cream on a nice day. The divorced ones are on Tinder, where some of my friends tend to wind up dating them.
After surveying the crowd, my friend and I slid into one of the wooden booths made from old church pews. Or, rather, I folded and squished my 6'2" frame clumsily into one side of the booth while my friend slid in across from me. We chose beers from various local options and ordered a couple of snacks. The wings, which are smoked in-house, were definitely the standout. The rest of the food was pretty simple, but it got the job done.
When Paul and Simone Burke took over the bar in 2011, they inherited the regulars, staff and overall neighborhood vibe of the place, which they have intentionally maintained. Simone explained that both she and Paul have worked in the bar and restaurant industry around town, at places like the College Inn, Campo di Fiori and the Ice House. They jumped at the chance to own their own bar, and Mead Street already had a formula that worked, allowing them to add their own ideas for fun events and a few new menu items.
Big annual shindigs at Mead Street are St. Patrick's Day, with Irish dancers and corned-beef specials, and the Santa Speedo Dash. This holiday event is just what it sounds like: a one-mile fun run where runners don their best Speedo-style swimsuits and holiday costume accents and run around the neighborhood. Each year, the Dash benefits a local charity, and Mead Street hosts the pre-run warm-ups and the post-run beers.
The Mead Street crew takes care of its own as well as giving back to the community at large. In an odd incident last fall in which a regular was stabbed at the bar by a man who lived in a nearby assisted-living facility, the Mead Street family rallied around their friend. The owners and staff threw a big fundraiser with Wynkoop Brewery and raised more than $1,000 to assist with their customer's recovery. The patron in question made a full recovery and is still a committed regular, Burke said.
Despite the changes happening in northwest Denver, there are still a few spots left that have remained untouched over the decades. A relaxed atmosphere, a few Colorado brews, unpretentious bar food and maybe some dudes in Speedos or Denver Dads: That's all that Mead Street Station needs to remain a neighborhood gem in my book.