The Ghosts of Arvada Past Haunt the Grandview Tavern

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas behind the bar at the Grandview.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas behind the bar at the Grandview. Samantha Morse
Olde Town Arvada has gotten surprisingly trendy these days. Lots of new spots, such as vegan restaurants and hip-looking toy stores, line the streets. There's even a fancy holiday pop-up Santa tiki bar. Luckily for folks who live in the area, or who enjoy taking a little trip to this cute part of a nearby Denver suburb, there are faithful old standbys mixed in with these new attractions to keep you coming back. One such establishment is the Grandview Tavern and Grill, in a building erected in 1898, one of the first two-story buildings in then-sleepy Arvada. The building was originally a hardware and grocery store, but has been a bar since the 1950s, the Grandview Tavern since 2004, and under the current ownership since 2016.

Alec and Carolyn Tyrrell loved drinking at the tavern so much that they decided to buy it. They kept things much the same as when they were paying customers, just making a few improvements to the menu and adding some new specials and drink options. The couple participates in all the Olde Town Arvada business events, of which there are many, including the recent Lagniappe and Annual Eggnog & Cider Competition (named for the small gift called a lagniappe that customers received).

The space is beautiful, with exposed brick on one wall, the original tin ceiling, and a grand mirrored bar that isn't actually antique or original to the building but has a vintage look. For the holidays, the tavern is adorned with garlands and decorations, and when we visited, it had a festive and bright vibe to it on a Saturday night. The place is cozy but not cramped, and there are historical photographs hanging on the brick wall.

We slid into some spots at the bar, and the bartenders called out, "Nicole, you're back!" to a regular who had come in at the same time. Two young female bartenders were hustling out drinks and food for the fairly large crowd, but were still willing to chat with us and introduce us to other regulars.

My bar research assistant and I were hungry and thirsty, and excited by the many food options on the menu. We'd been told that the soups and salads and burgers are popular here, and there are also full-on entrees like fajitas and steaks — even surf and turf — and a small selection of desserts. There were no Saturday specials, but there's a typical Taco Tuesday deal to go along with Tuesday night trivia, as well as a unique "Shrimp on the Barbie Night" on Wednesdays, with shrimp skewer plates cooked to order, small for $8.95 and large for $16.95. We went for a sampling of the tasty bar snacks on the appetizer menu: pretzel-battered cheese curds, thin and tangy pickle fries, and crispy wings with dry-rub jerk seasoning. Everything was good and priced well for the amount of food and the quality. The wings, in particular, had a great peppery-sweet flavor. Drinks-wise, there were many options, from beer to tequila to White Claw. My friend ordered a mixed drink, and I got a Tommyknocker Blood Orange IPA to go with our feast of fried foods.

The place was full of the tail end of the dinner crowd; families and couples filtered out and more folks piled in searching for a pint of beer or a cocktail to start off their night in an area that's home to many bars and restaurants. Some young women at a table behind us were wearing ugly sweaters, because ’tis the season, and the rest of the clientele represented a diverse mix of gay and straight, baby boomer and millennial. But there wasn't any "OK Boomer" tension happening, just inter-generational friendship and tolerance. Everyone seemed to be having a great time; regulars and new faces mixed and mingled over drinks or college football on TV.

A woman next to us in her forties explained that she'd come to meet a blind date. She lived in the area, but it was her first time in the Grandview, so we chatted a little before watching the initial phases of her date go down. We also met a longtime regular who used to tend bar at the Denver Press Club; he thanked me for being a journalist because it's important in these times (though I'm not exactly writing about the hard-hitting news of the day).

click to enlarge These fierce lady athletes may or may not haunt the Grandview Tavern. Either way, it's a pretty cool picture. - SARAH MCGILL
These fierce lady athletes may or may not haunt the Grandview Tavern. Either way, it's a pretty cool picture.
Sarah McGill
One of the bartenders told us about my favorite hard-hitting bar topic: ghosts. She said she has felt a presence behind her many times late at night, and several regulars have captured orbs or whole ghost figures in pictures they have taken in the bar. One customer even had a selfie with a ghostly image in it. Another customer took a video one afternoon and panned across the nearly empty bar, only to see a figure walking through on camera, when no one was there. No one seems to know too much about these spirits, which all seem benign, according to the staff, but they clearly enjoy the Grandview as much as the rest of us. Tasty food, classy but welcoming environs, and a wide variety of well-priced drinks make the Grandview Tavern a place worth coming back to, worth a visit from Denver...or even from beyond the grave.

The Grandview Tavern and Grille is located at 7427 Grandview Avenue in Arvada and is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. weeknights and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Visit the bar's website or call 303-422-0781 for more information.
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Sarah McGill is a contributor to Westword's Food & Drink section and can be found exploring Denver's neighborhood bars. She is also a ghost story and karaoke enthusiast. Despite not being from Colorado, Sarah and Denver have been in a long-term relationship, and it seems like this one might be for real.