^
Keep Westword Free
4

Photos: Blue Bonnet celebrates 45 years in the Mobell family

The Blue Bonnet will mark its 45th anniversary on July 25. That's a long time for a restaurant to last on the Denver dining scene -- but it's even more remarkable that the Blue Bonnet has been in the same family's hands for all those years. And the Blue Bonnet's history stretches back even further: The original spot opened shortly after Prohibition ended, and its owner had Texas roots, which explains the name -- even though the bar was far from a delicate flower.

When Arlene and Philip Mobell bought the Blue Bonnet in 1968, Gary and Marci Mobell were just kids. The joint was so rough that Marci wasn't even allowed in the place. But as the Mobells turned the Blue Bonnet into more of a restaurant, and then a Mexican restaurant, all that changed. Today Marci runs the restaurant with brother Gary. See also: - No free munch: Blue Bonnet, readers' choice for Best Chips and Salsa - Blue Bonnet expands its patio - Drunk of the Week: Blue Bonnet

There have been plenty of other changes to the Blue Bonnet over the past 45 years. The location, for example: More than two decades ago, it moved down Broadway to its current spot at 457 South Broadway. Gary Mobell says the family was very careful to make the new place look like the old one, with a big bar up front and a family dining area in the back. But the new location had something the old one didn't: a patio.

And that patio keeps expanding, to accommodate fans who like to linger over a long lunch or sit and enjoy a margarita or three during happy hour (there are two a day, from 3 to 6 p.m. and from 9 p.m. to closing, with deals on margs and tacos). The food, too, has gotten some updates. Today there's an extensive list of gluten-free offerings, and the menu has more of an emphasis on lighter and more inventive fare. Who would have imagined forty years ago that the Blue Bonnet would serve an excellent mahi-mahi ceviche?

"People don't eat the same way they did 45 or even thirty years ago," Gary says. "Forty-five years ago, there were no fresh chiles or peppers. Now everything is fresh, fire-roasted in-house."

But even as you step things up a notch, he notes, you have to retain the basics your business was built on. "Things are so much harder today. It's so much more competitive," Mobell says. "I'm very grateful. I work with people who are very talented."

And they cater to customers who are very, very faithful. In honor of the Blue Bonnet's 45th anniversary, the restaurant is serving bottomless chips and salsa for just 45 cents all month.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Keep reading for more historic photos of the Blue Bonnet.


Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.