Best of Denver

Squire Lounge to close for renovations -- will the classic dive go upscale?

Squire Lounge, the legendary Colfax dive bar will be closing its doors at the end of the week for a month. The owners have extensive renovations planned, and the bar will never be the same -- for better or for worse. For some patrons, the remodeling project will mean cleaner, more private bathrooms; classier cocktail options and a friendlier ambience. For die-hard Loungers, however, this renovation represents the end of an era.

We went to the last Tuesday night open mic before the revamp -- a surprisingly maudlin affair that comedian Aaron Urist compared to an Irish wake - to get a sense of how people feel about the Squire Lounge getting all respectable. Not everyone is heartbroken about the rebuilding and rebranding of the Squire. When we asked Charles Robbins, a Squire bartender and the best goddamned doorman in Denver, what he was looking forward to about the remodel, he muttered, "I can't wait to swing a hammer at these fucking walls."

We also caught up with Squire bartender Cam Omlid Omlid -- who also tends bar over at the Matchbox, including during its Sunday open mic night, which means he has listened to more failed dick jokes than just about anyone in Denver -- to see how he was feeling about the change:

See also: -Greg Baumhauer recording live album at the Squire Lounge Thursday -The Squire is one of Denver's greatest dives -The Squire Lounge: The meth of Denver's late-night scene

Westword: Why close the Squire?

Cam Omlid: It's time. While we all love the old lady, she needs a bath. Actually, a delousing like a new inmate. Many people come to the Squire as a joke, to say they've been to a scary dive bar on Colfax to drink with people they consider beneath them. That doesn't make for a good environment. Those of us who love the place want it to be a meeting place for friends old and new. A hub in a neighborhood that has lost some of its meeting places in the past few years. We want a usable space.

What part of the renovated Squire Lounge appeals most to you?

As a bartender, there is very little I can do if we become busy. I can't make the type of cocktail I'd be proud to serve. So, time to powerwash. Time to scrub. Time to rebuild.

What do you think people overlook about the Squire?

Beneath the grime is a wonderful space in a great location with a lot of history. We want to expand on that history, and make the Squire a place people want to go, not a place people used to go, or went once and tell horror stories about. Bars can be the center of a community. We want the Squire to be the slightly neurotic, crazy place it has always been, but with a bit more stability and less kitsch. There are good bones there, and we will be exposing them. A place with so much history deserves better, as do our customers, and we're finally making it happen. I'm glad I get to be a part of that, and I'm excited for everyone to see what the place can be.

Want to see the Squire in its current format? It will be open for three more days, and Loungers will close out the old barroom with one final night of karaoke on Friday.

Follow Byron Graham on twitter @ByronFG for more mildly amusing sequences of words.

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Byron Graham is a writer, comedian and gentleman thief from Denver. Co-host of Designated Drunkard: A Comedy Drinking Game, the deathless Lion's Lair open mic and the Mutiny Book Club podcast, Byron also writes about comedy for Westword. He cannot abide cowardice, and he's never been defeated in an open duel.
Contact: Byron Graham