Aug 20, 2023 - Things to Do

My Brother's Bar celebrates 150 years in Denver

Outside My Brother's Bar in Denver's Highland neighborhood. Photo: Esteban L. Hernandez/Axios

Some people go for the food, others for the booze, but My Brother's Bar co-owner Dave Newman will be the first to tell you some folks visit simply to relish the history.

State of play: That's what happens when you're a 150-year-old restaurant and bar, and people hear that luminaries like Beat generation icon Neal Cassady used to run up a bar tab there.

Driving the news: As the oldest continuously running bar in the city celebrates its sesquicentennial, this brick building on the corner of 15th and Platte Streets sits as a monument to old Denver.

  • It's a landmark structure that refuses to submit to the kind of modern — and let's call it what it is — cookie-cutter design popping up around town.
  • There's no escaping change, however: The shiny new buildings surrounding it are visible to patrons from across the cavernous but warm dining area inside the restaurant.

The intrigue: Over its 150 years, the bar and restaurant has held multiple names, including Highland House, Paul's Place and Whitey's.

  • Newman said it got its current name from a line its previous owners, Jim and Angelo Karagas, would tell vendors who stopped by seeking payment: "Don't look at me — it's my brother's bar."

What they're saying: "Our family is going to keep this piece of Denver history alive, both as a building as well as a place for people of all ages to come … where friends and families can get together, relax and have fun," Dave's son Danny told Westword in 2017.

Catch up quick: The restaurant changed hands three years before COVID upended the industry and led long-standing Mile High institutions to close for good.

  • Dave tells us go-to food orders during the shutdown in 2020 kept it in business, while it also got a boost during the pandemic when it was featured in the television series "Restaurant Recovery" on Discovery Plus which helped set up outdoor dining to allow the restaurant to keep serving.

What we're watching: Despite its historic nature, the bar is not an official Denver landmark.

  • Dave tells us his family has floated the idea of building a rooftop patio, but a landmark designation could place limits on renovations.

Read more: The bar's connection to the Beat generation


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