Campus Lounge 3.0 – Returning to its roots

It only took 4 months and, by several accounts, several million dollars. The ‘new’ Campus Lounge collapsed with their new age food concept and spartan entertainment. Dan Landes, the owner, offered a stark assessment. “Basically, it’s a failure…My intention with Campus Lounge was to save an iconic sign, but not the legacy of a great man (former owner Jim Wiste). He built a bar that people love and I didn’t pay Jim’s legacy enough respect because, honestly, I’m not passionate about sports.”

Campus Lounge 4
The doors are set to reopen at the Campus Lounge at 701 South University Boulevard. But, can the spirit of Jim Wiste be rekindled at the iconic Denver bar?

Fast forward five months to this past Friday and an article by Westword announcing the Campus Lounge reopening late this September, just in time for the return of classes at DU and the start of fall sports. The Nickless family from Denver will assume the reins of the iconic tavern and have plans to return to pub to it’s former glory. And one of the principals. Jeff Nickless is a DU grad. And, with deep connections to the hospitality business, they appear to be the perfect fit to restart what original owner Jim Wiste started.

The horseshoe bar stays but the focus will be on creating a neighborhood gathering place – as it once was. They likely will return with Wiste’s signature green chile, a Campus burrito and burgers. Even T-bone Tuesdays are set to return. And sports? Well, there will be 14 TVs with big screens in the main area and even more in the bathrooms. And the side game room will have four additional screens. So, it is back to the Denver sports bar concept.

The challenge for Campus Lounge 3.0 will be to recapture the past. That means comfort food, sports, and friendly service while bringing the upscale Bonnie Brae neighborhood back into the fold. With a severe lack of parking, the Campus Lounge will also have to become a destination for area customers who are willing to hunt for a neighborhood parking spot. And, to be honest, the Campus Lounge was losing steam the last several years under the late Jim Wiste, a former DU hockey player, and grad. So there is much work to do to reignite interest in the new Campus Lounge.

While the Nickless family certainly must have a number of people in their ear regarding the interior decor, LetsGoDU is only making one suggestion. Return a hand painted mural of Keith Magnuson on the wall. Please…

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Plans are targeting an October 1st opening – just in time for the Monday night football game between Kansas City and Denver. We will be sure to keep you updated.

5 thoughts on “Campus Lounge 3.0 – Returning to its roots”

  1. If you were to boil down the 40+ years of success under Wiste, it wasn’t the food, the drinks, the TVs or the decor that made the place special. It was more of a divey clubhouse for people to wind down, without pretension or artifice. In short, it was much more about people than it was about place — a motley mix of hockey people, DU-affiliated people and neighborhood regulars who gave the place a special spirit/vibe.

    The new owners are doing the right thing by restoring the sports bar to its original purpose, but the tricky part for them will be restoring the vibe. People don’t drink as much in taverns these days, due to drunk driving laws, health awareness and cost. Sports bars around Denver are already numerous. For the new owners to get the new place profitable, it will need to infuse the place with a sustainable vibe…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The bar had not kept up with the changing demographics. It became a place with crap food and a place for drunks n smokers.

    I hope the new owners don’t try to take us back to those bad old days!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. They will need a great staff, too. The staff in the Campus I was a little too divey. The staff in Campus II was a bit too self-aware in a way that might work in Cap Hill, but not Bonnie Brae. They’ll need to hire people who transmit a very welcoming and friendly vibe.

    If they don’t have some kind of DU hockey “presence” in the bar, they’ll probably disappoint the DU contingent like us. They don’t have to go overboard with it–just recognize the history, and the customers will appreciate it and realize that Campus III is trying to make amends.

    Like

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