Cafe Society

Ooh, la la! How Paris on the Platte became the "rive gauche" of Denver

We'll always have Paris. Paris on the Platte will be celebrating its 25th anniversary all weekend, with two days of music and memories starting at 8:30 p.m. tonight, and continuing tomorrow. In anticipation of the celebration, DT has already shared his memory of learning to smoke at Paris, right before he started basic training at the age of seventeen. "I wanted to learn how to smoke cigarettes prior to my ship date to show how 'grown up' I was," he says. "I didn't want anyone in the Army to know that I have never attempted to smoke anything at this point in my life." You can read the full story, which won DT a Paris on the Platte gift basket, here.

And Paris on the Platte owner Faye Maguire took a few minutes out from party planning to offer some memories of her own:

"People have asked me over the years where the name 'Paris on the Platte' came from," she says. "Often, they are confused. It isn't a French restaurant. I tell them it is a 'European -style' cafe. The name, and Paris's very existence, are both directly related to Muddy Waters of the Platte, the legendary coffeehouse that was around the corner on 15th Sttreet from 1975 to 1985. I was working at My Brother's Bar, and I met Jeff Maguire, who owned the bookstore at Muddy's. We got married just as Muddy's was closing, and decided to move the bookstore down to Platte Street, and open a small coffeehouse to go with the bookstore. The bookstore was called Left Bank Books. It made sense to me to call the cafe Left Bank , but Jeff didn't like the name. But Platte Street really was the 'rive gauche' of Denver, the bohemian, funky, artsy side of town. We ended up with Paris on the Platte by way of compromise, while still honoring the free-spirited nature of what we were creating.

"After we had been open for maybe ten or twelve years, I came to work one Saturday morning to find my barista, Paul Kennedy, very excited about the name. He had just read Tom Noel's column on Denver history, particularly about the Irish in Denver and, more specifically about Mayor Speer, whose vision for Denver in the early 1900s was to make it into a more cosmopolitan, sophisticated city: 'Paris on the Platte.' Paul said to me, 'So, that must be where you got the name!' I told him -- honestly -- that was the first time I had ever heard that story. So, were we 'channelling' Mayor Speer when we went with the name?"

Happy birthday, Paris on the Platte.

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