Theme restaurants of the past


Last Sunday my wife (Dee) and I attended “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” play at Littleton Town Hall Arts Center. It was a good play and I recommend it to anyone. It is strange how one event spurs your thoughts to some other subject. I was thinking of the play and for some reason I started to think about theme restaurants that have been in Denver in past years. They are gone now but I have memories to share.

The first one I remember is “94th Aero Squadron” This was located just south of the east,west runway of Stapleton International Airport. The building was built to look like a farm building of World War I vintage. It had sandbags around the building and replicas of machine guns near the entrance. The thing that I remember the most was the “ready room” this was a room located in the basement and it was decorated like a room where World War I pilots prepared for their next combat mission. They showed black & white movies that some times could be quite graphic. I remember one about a bull fight and the bull gored one of the horses. Need I say More? The restaurant was situated so that you could view the planes take off and land. It was an enjoyable experience. However, I don’t remember how good the food was.

I don’t remember the timeline, but I think the business closed expectantly. After a period of time the building conveniently burned down, how strange.

Another memory was the “Traildust Steak House” located near I25 and Arapahoe road. Their gimmick was to display ties that they supposedly cut off from customers if they walked in with a tie. The walls were covered with the bottom portions of ties. Apparently they were doing well and opened up another location in Westminster. Again, I don’t remember the timeline the Westminster location closed and later the Arapahoe location was closed.

Brittany On the Hill is the next restaurant on my list. This was located east of I25 maybe 92nd & Grant. It was high on a hill and had a nice view of northern parts of Denver. We are not much for reservations and we just take our chances to get in. One Saturday we decided to go there and when we got there they informed us that the entire restaurant was closed for a wedding reception. I don’t know how much that cost, but, I know I could never afford to pay for a trick like that.

Baby Doe Matchless Mine took the same steps as the previous examples. Located west of I25 near 26th Avenue. The theme they displayed was an old Colorado gold mine. The view of downtown Denver was very enjoyable. Again I don’t remember how the food tasted.

I also remember another restaurant near I25 just east of the freeway. You could see the building from the freeway. The building looked like and old Dutch windmill. I don’t remember the name. I think it was something like “Old Dutch Mill”. One of their gimmicks was to place  an empty coffee cup on the foot of the waiter and poor the coffee from the pot into the coffee cup resting on the waiters foot.  Apparently, the coffee pouring through the air was suppose to enhance the flavor of the coffee.

They are all gone now. All I have are memories of these food establishments. They all seemed to be busy when we went there. One will really never know why they disappeared, but I would speculate that tons of money was lost. I am sure there are theme restaurants taking their place. We just have not had the interest to find them. At our age we must watch our diet and be more careful on what we eat and how much. Today we look for coupons in the paper and senior discounts at the restaurants we go to.

One wonders how Casa Bonita and Simms Landing has survived the test of time. What is their secret?

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