As development continues, Denver is losing many of its great dives and neighborhood bars. When Howard and Nanette Nelson bought Shelby's Bar & Grill back in 1991, the building at 519 18th Street had already been a saloon for close to eighty years, but the neighborhood it served had turned into a sea of downtown parking lots and skyscrapers.
Shelby's, however, remained a friendly gathering place for everyone from lawyers to bike messengers to Panthers fans. But the Nelsons knew the bar's days were numbered; they owned the business but not the building, which was on a lease with a ninety-day demolition clause. And after the sale of the property and some of those surrounding parking lots last year, they recently got the notice that those ninety days for Shelby's are up on June 30.
They plan to keep pouring through June 23, but regulars are already in mourning...and awash in memories. Recalls Robert:
Oh, the questionable decisions made there.
Aw, damn. First bar I was ever served underage and where I also celebrated my 21st, officially.
Sad. Great little bar.
Oh, no, every good dive bar is closing!!! What’s next, Bar Bar!?!
What is happening to Denver?
Developers suck entire bags of dicks.
Holy cow... apparently someone wants to close anywhere older than two years!
Everything that was Denver and defined Denver is disappearing.
Keep reading for more on Shelby's, and other Denver dives.
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"Shelby's Getting Ready for Last Call in June"
The building now occupied by Shelby's started life as a funeral parlor in 1906, but the building has housed a bar of some sort for close to a century. For much of that time, it was the legendary Pink Lady.
State historian Tom Noel, aka Dr. Colorado, visited the Pink Lady when he did research in the early '70s for his groundbreaking work, The City and the Saloon: Denver 1958-1916. In 1979, the bar became Shelby's, and it's emassed many more chapters over the past four decades.
But now Shelby's, and the building that houses it, are about to become history. Have you visited Shelby's? What do you think about what's happening to Denver's neighborhood bars? Is there one you particularly miss? Post a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org.