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The three-building Livestock Exchange complex; the Stockyard Saloon is on the left.EXPAND
The three-building Livestock Exchange complex; the Stockyard Saloon is on the left.
Denver.gov

Stockyard Saloon Saddles Up for Another National Western Stock Show

Dean Maus is getting ready for those sixteen-hour days he’ll be spending at his Stockyard Saloon come this weekend, when the National Western Stock Show gets under way. But he doesn’t mind the long hours: He’s happy the place is still open.

A year ago, he wasn’t sure that the Stockyard Saloon would be around to welcome another National Western Stock Show. The space the saloon has occupied for decades — the past sixteen years with Maus at the helm — is in the westernmost building in a three-structure complex smack in the middle of the property that’s being redeveloped into the $1.1 billion National Western Center; the David Tryba-designed Heritage Building will be going up just to the north.

But while the city has been purchasing property in the area for that project — it had targeted close to forty parcels it needed for the campus when planning began several years ago — Maus didn’t know if he’d have to vacate right after the 2017 show ended. Nor did he feel any more secure after the 2018 show ended.

The Legacy Building planned for the National Western Center.EXPAND
The Legacy Building planned for the National Western Center.
Tryba Architects

Now, though, the city confirms that it’s purchased the three-building complex from longtime owner Fred Orr, including the circa 1919 building that houses the Stockyard, formerly known as the Old West Tavern, then Doc’s and the Stockyards Inn after that. Next to it is the oldest structure on the site, which sustained considerable fire damage years ago; to the east is the lovely, five-story Livestock Exchange Building, which opened in 1916, when the Stock Show was just a decade old. The Brand Board was the first tenant of that building, which boasted a stunning marble lobby, elegant elevators, a snack bar and a chalkboard where prices were posted for cattle fattening outside in the pens. It still has many of those amenities; more recently, it also had the FBI as a tenant. (The feds moved out a few months ago.) Orr, whose family homesteaded by Granby in 1883 and showed the grand reserve champion steer at the Stock Show a century later, wound up acquiring the complex after it went into receivership almost two decades ago.

Get in here, and head back into history.
Get in here, and head back into history.
Westword

And the city has no intention of tearing it down. In fact, the city plans to get the Livestock Exchange designated as a historic structure, according to Jenna Espinoza, communications director of the National Western Center. “The middle building suffered a devastating fire many years ago and has recently undergone abatement and mitigation,” she says. “Future uses are unknown at this time. Finally, the section that holds the saloon is staying, and it’s our hope that the owners of the Stockyard Saloon will remain a tenant.”

That’s a hope shared by everyone who’s ever grabbed a seat at the bar and enjoyed the herd of revelers during the Stock Show, or just enjoyed a quiet drink and a burger in the off-season. And so Maus, whose current lease runs through next October and just finished fixing the plumbing that had problems during that recent cold snap (FYI, the women’s room is labeled “Heifers”), is now booking the bands that will play every night starting on the 11th and running through the end of the Stock Show on January 27. He’s laying in plenty of liquor, too, although he’s planning on ordering every day, to accommodate the crowds that make his place party central. The drink of choice? Pendleton and Coke during the Stock Show, although he says it’s normally more of a burger and beer beer joint.

A burger and beer joint, and a classic saloon still going strong in a rapidly developing town where too many great old watering holes are drying up.

Yee-haw.

The Stockyard Saloon is located at 4710 National Western Drive (formerly Packing House Drive). While the bar is normally open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, all bets are off during the National Western Stock Show, when it's open seven days and late into the night. To check on hours, call 303-298-0525.

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