Death of a Dive Bar: The Squire Lounge

The logo of The Squire hasn't changed, at least.

The logo of The Squire hasn’t changed, at least.

No, the old and venerated Squire Lounge did NOT close their doors. Yes, they are still open for business. However, one of our favorite dive bars did most surely die in large part.

The original Squire was dirty. Everything was sticky. It had tile flooring that was broken and sometimes straight-up missing. The huge booths had cracked vinyl and wobbly tables. The regular clientele was rough, to put it nicely. Pretty much the only things in the bar that weren’t grimy, chipped, or otherwise in need of repair were the friendly atmosphere and the cheap pool tables. In short, it was a real dive bar. One of the dwindling few left on Colfax. And we loved it. The booze was stiff and cheap, the patrons were interesting, and the bar itself had a distinct personality. Sort of like your great aunt who gets really drunk and talks about her (continuing) wild days.

But the owners decided to the sanitize the old girl. For most of the month of September, The Squire was closed for renovations. And did they ever renovate. The physical bar is about three times the original size and is much less sticky. They put in more craft-oriented taps (one of the few changes I am fully behind) and there is actually a cocktail program of sorts. Yes, really. The floors are no longer slightly difficult to traverse while inebriated as they are now some sort of wood/laminate with a uniform height.  The awesome booths are also gone and replaced with much more normal (and less wobbly) tables. The bathrooms are now far, far less legitimately terrifying, so that’s an honest plus. I am also very glad that they decided to keep the original fans run by a single, continuous belt.

The old red booths have gone ultra-cool.

The old red booths have gone ultra-cool.

The owners have sterilized this bar, revamped it and made it safe and palatable for twenty-something hipsters. On my recent voyage there, I was awash – lost! – in the ocean of tight-tight jeans and ironically dyed hair. And as much as I miss the old Squire, I honestly cannot fault the owners too much. It’s a pretty safe bet that The Squire is doing far better financially in its new flannel-approved incarnation than it ever did in its previous life. On a random school night, the place was still decently hopping at 2 AM.

So it seems that our beloved, dirty, black-out inducing Squire Lounge joins the ranks of other dives around Denver that have gone from actual-dive-bars to cool, slick shadow versions of their former selves that have been carefully designed to draw in the hip kids, those who like having the option of a decent Colorado craft beer draft and/or a well-made martini so they can choose PBR instead.

In reality, most people will probably greatly approve of the recent changes at The Squire. Most people won’t mourn the death of this dive bar. But for those of us who will… at least the booze is still reasonably cheap?

About Nikki Minette

An uppity minx who loves beer, bourbon, politics, kitties, naps, and Firefly. Tap room bartender at River North Brewery. Follow her on twitter @whiskeynikki.

  • Jennifer Hensley

    My new band name is now “Hipster Hidey Hole”. Thanks, Nikki!

    • Nikki

      Hipster Hidey Hole can only play at venues that are too cool to actually play music. Besides, we wouldn’t understand their music.

  • DrinkyJim

    I never saw the original, grimy version. I did go to this newly sanitized one and I was very much not impressed. There was karaoke that night, which is fine. But it was very loud, and the crowd was remarkably unfriendly. Could have been an off night, but it’ll be awhile before I go back. Just my personal tastes though, nothing against the bar. They have a thing and they’re doing it.

  • Sir Drinksalot

    I think the renovations are terrible. It is owned by the same people who own Xbar. This biggest problem with that place is that they made the space a big box — low bar, you can see across the entire room. They did the same thing with the Squire. You walk in and immediately feel like you’re in a box. No character, no soul. Sad.