Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

The Wazee celebrates its 35th birthday


The Wazee Supper Club was just three years old when I first walked in -- but it felt like it had been there forever, a great hideaway tucked under the still-standing 15th Street Viaduct, in an area of lower downtown that was still a decade away from being nicknamed "LoDo." I became a fan of the Wazee from my first bite of its pizza, my first sip from the giant goblet of wine served during happy hour.

Such a fan, in fact, that three years later, we moved our office right above the restaurant and, more often than not, into the restaurant. The pay phones in back became our newsroom. And we bedeviled Wazee owner/manager Angelo Karagas, our long-suffering landlord, with our unauthorized use of the secret back staircase that we'd sneak down for a fast pick-me-up before pulling another all-nighter.

That staircase is gone now, as is the 15th Street Viaduct. And so, sadly, is the avuncular Angelo. After he passed away, his brother, Jim, who still owns My Brother's Bar, sold the Wazee to the Wynkoop group. But while the ownership has changed, the Wazee remains much the same as it was when I first walked in the door.

It's still one of the coolest spaces in town, with high ceilings, century-old booths, an old tile floor and a dumbwaiter that takes food and drink up to the mezzanine. And while the menu has been augmented -- in the old days, you couldn't get mayo, much less an appetizer -- the pizza is still among the best in town, served until 1 a.m.

There will be plenty of those pizzas served this week, as well as massive amounts of beer poured, as the Wazee celebrates its 35th birthday. The bar will be offering $3.50 specials from 11 a.m. today through closing July 25, including house wines, pints, well drinks and items from the anniversary appetizer menu.

From 5-8 p.m. on Thursday, July 23, regulars -- and their ranks are legion, with Jason Sheehan a relatively recent recruit -- are invited to a reunion party. Friday, July 24, is free beer Friday; the keg of Wynkoop Railyard Ale will be tapped at 4 p.m., and everyone can drink free until it runs dry. Finally, on Saturday, July 25, Clam Daddy will be playing "swinging blues" from 8-11 p.m.

Whether you've never been to the Wazee, or you've been there hundreds, thousands of times, you'll want to stop by the corner of 15th and Wazee streets this week, open that big door under the "Supper Club" sign, and celebrate a real city institution.

For more information, go to www.wazeesupperclub.com or call 303-623-9518.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun