Campus Lounge mystery uncovered

Photo: The Campus Lounge has been closed for over a year.

It was a year ago that we mourned the closing of the Campus Lounge and celebrated the retirement of its proprietor, Jim Wiste, a former DU hockey player. So many University of Denver sports memories have been shared there, especially for hockey, that its closure felt more like a funeral than a business closing. (And yes, there were a few wakes held there, too).

Fast forward one year – the Campus Lounge is still closed. What’s the story?

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The Campus Lounge was a living memorial to Denver hockey.

Its new owners are the St. Charles Town Company president Charles Woolley, a Denver real estate developer along with restaurateur Dan Landes, chef Brendan Doyle and an anonymous real estate developer who preferred to remain so. When interviewed by the Denver Post in October, Landes stated, “Renovations to the Bonnie Brae building will be minimal, Landes said. “We’re restoring it back to its 1950s style. We’re keeping it the Campus Lounge.” And the horseshoe-shaped bar will stay.”

Pioneer fans were both relieved and anxious to see the “new look” Campus Lounge.

Westword published an article shortly thereafter, “The partners are hoping to have the place open before Thanksgiving weekend — the ideal time for people who grew up in Denver, like Landes and Doyle, to congregate and toast a revived landmark. (Landes says he’s already hearing from old friends excited about the purchase.)”

Uh, Dan – you’re 10 months late!

Then, in April this year, Denver Metro Media reported another delay in the Campus Lounge reopening.

Landes said, “When we first purchased the Campus Lounge we thought we could do some minor renovations and reopen. We quickly discovered a lot more work was needed to build the restaurant we wanted and retail space that will be a part of Bonnie Brae for the next 40 years. Everything is being upgraded including the interior, HVAC and plumbing. Once permitting was involved, the entire space had to brought up to code including the retail next door (neighboring law office, salon, Travel Agency). We couldn’t do these renovations with tenants still occupying the space.”

Landes thinks the new Campus Lounge will be open sometime mid-May to early June. The interior was totally gutted and is being rebuilt with a similar footprint including the U-shaped bar. There will also be new bathrooms, which will be welcome news to anyone who visited the restaurant in recent years. The room that used to house all the pool tables will now have dining tables only.

With numerous broken timelines, Landes is starting to sound like Ray Anderson, the athletic director at Arizona State, who keeps predicting the wrong dates when the Sun Devils will have a new ice arena.

Anyway, work is progressing and it does look like the new Campus Lounge interior should be complete by the end of this year.

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This photo, taken at night, shows progress on the interior of the ‘new’ Campus Lounge. It does appear the horseshoe shaped bar (left) will be a part of the new design.

As for the menu, Landes is revamping it and described the updates as “fun and contemporary” saying there will be snacks, options for kids, and choices for adults. The kitchen will also be open so guests can see who is cooking their food, which Landes feels is a big benefit to customers.

There are few changes to the familiar exterior with the classic neon ‘Campus Lounge’ sign welcoming traffic along University and Exposition.

When they (finally) open, we will let you know.

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