My Brother's Bar has a deserved reputation for serving a great greasy bar burger.
Part of that burger's greatness is undeniably the bar in which it's (usually) served. The building at 2376 15th Street has held a bar since the 1870s; Neal Cassady hung out here when it was Paul’s Place, making it a Beat landmark. And as My Brother’s Bar, it’s survived for more than fifty years with no TVs while playing classical music and delivering burgers wrapped in wax paper along with a shared condiment tray that would never pass health-department muster during a pandemic.
As the city began shutting down, I headed to My Brother's Bar to soak up some of that ambience and burger grease; the next day, March 15, co-owner Danny Newman announced that the bar would close for the foreseeable future, and not offer to-go or delivery options.
"Through blizzards, stock market ups and downs, and even world wars, we’ve always been there for our guests and for our staff," wrote Newman on the My Brother's Facebook page. The bar also weathered the purchase of the place by the Newman family from Jim Karagas, who'd opened My Brother's with his brother, Angelo, on April 2, 1970; it's been largely business as usual since that deal went through...until now.
"And now in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic," Newman continued, "we are choosing to put our guests and staff first once again, by temporarily closing our doors and slowing the spread of this virus."
But now, as the city slowly reawakens, My Brother's Bar has gotten back in the game, offering its menu for pickup and delivery from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. six days a week. The limited service is a chance to get back in gear, to rev up in anticipation of city and state officials finally unveiling a date when restaurants and bars can reopen for dine-in/drink-in service, and under what rules and regulations for the safety of both workers and patrons.
"We were fortunate to get some of the PPP money, so we figured out a way to get people back in, doing some updates, painting and cleaning, and were able to figure out at least an interim pickup and delivery solution," Newman says. "We're testing it out...it hasn't been amazing, but it hasn't been terrible."
And while Newman kept the My Brother's never-open-on-Sunday rule, he did break a longstanding tradition with this reopening: There are now signs on the building, at least temporarily.
Lured by those signs offering pickup and delivery that seemed to magically appear late last month, I dropped by last night for a couple of those bar burgers, wrapped in wax paper and with a selection of toppings (peppers, pickles and onions) provided in a container on the side; the grease was already showing on the side of the bag.
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While I missed the additional flavor that the bar itself always provides, the burgers were almost as good consumed at our dining room table. Certainly good enough to provide a taste of what we've been missing here in Denver, and what we're eager to experience again once the city returns to normal...or whatever the new normal may be.
Even without condiment trays.