Competition is steep in Capitol Hill in the industry of libations and eateries, so what can a new hot spot do to stand out from all the rest? Daddy’s Bar and Grill has been in full swing for six months and the owners feel they are doing things totally differently. While they have experienced the ups and downs as a small business inside the big city, the LGBTQ-focused hangout, located at 6th Avenue and Downing Street, is pushing boundaries and bridging gaps within the queer community.
“The concept of it is was to be a chill place, to be all-inclusive,” explained owner and co-manager Kevin Yardley. “We don’t feel that our community is represented as a whole in our bar scene. We wanted to change that a little bit in Denver.”
Yardley and his partner and restaurant co-manager Bill Magnuson combined their collective experience in the bar and restaurant industry and opened the doors of Daddy’s in November 2017. Named after the fact that both Yardley and Magnuson are dads, they wanted to see something else in the Denver LGBTQ nightlife, so they focused their attention on drawing in crowds by delivering an alternative to the current offerings.
“When I moved to Denver 15 years ago, I missed the heydays of The Carousel, Broadways, the old Triangle… The Fox Hole closed literally two weeks after I was here,” Magnuson said. “It seems like Denver has had this gap in it, so we wanted to bring some of this back. Daddy’s is more of a community bar versus just a gay bar.”
Yardley and Magnuson dreamed of owning a place like Daddy’s from the beginning of their relationship eight years ago. They imagined it would need to be in a place like Montana, where Yardley is from, or even that they would need to relocate to Seattle in order to make this dream a reality. Little did they think it would be happening right now, and right here in Denver.
After taking possession of what used to be My Other Bar on November 1, the two quickly transformed the rugged and rundown establishment and opened November 15. They say there was a team of people that put in a lot of hard work, and there was a lot of cleaning that had to be done in order to turn the place into the bar they had always dreamed of.
“The only thing that’s the same is the bar area’s license plates,” Yardley said. “That was one of the things that we liked about the bar. Drawing off of that, we went with a garage theme. The day we got to open was the coolest day.”
Hard work pays off; the place feels like it has had a breath of fresh air and a new liveliness brought inside its walls. The openness of the main room feels industrial, garage-like, and lends itself to a floor fit for dancing just as much as a casual place to meet with good friends for a couple drinks. The license plate-covered bar top is not only an homage to My Other Bar but also to the fact that Denver has become such a transplant city. The full food and drink menu is also a standout from most of its competition, perfect for a quick bite for lunch or a leisurely dinner with a date.
“A lot of the people have loved seeing the change, the renovation of the space,” Yardley said of the response from the neighborhood. “It’s a good thing for Cap Hill in the long run. We had the opportunity to take a location that was rugged and has been run down and revitalize it for the community.”
“We’re also bringing a lot of older clientele out who have been out of the scene,” Yardley went on. “We have a lot of the Denver Gay Professional Men’s Club, along with younger people, too. We sponsor gay leagues, we’re sponsoring the Colorado Gay Rodeo Association, all kinds of that stuff.”
Besides weekends, Daddy’s has seen some of its biggest crowds on Wednesday nights: Ladies Night. With happy hour going all night long, the place is packed during the all-inclusive “Girl’s Night Out.” Bringing another spot to the lesbian and non-binary community was something that was important to them from the beginning.
“I really don’t feel like the ladies in town have a place other than Blush & Blu, and I feel that’s a real shame,” Magnuson said. “Some of that has been perpetuated by other bars, which is one of those cycles we wanted to break.”
Magnuson said he experienced animosity and negativity during his time in the food and beverage industry, and specifically within the gay bar and club scene.
“We don’t want the hostility; we’re trying to stifle that,” he said. “The community here has become its own worst enemy and I don’t like that, so I’m offering opportunities for other options.”
As the business prepares for its first Denver Pride, they have a lot planned and are looking forward to celebrating along with the rest of the city. Kicking off the weekend with a big Wednesday “Girl’s Night Out” event, things will be in full swing all weekend. Friday night there will be live music by jazz singer Humphrey Cobb and Saturday they will host Trash Drag with Ginger Cilantro. Strap Up Custom Gear is going to set up a harness display, go-go boys will be serving shots, and they are excited about the soon-to-be-announced food and drink specials for each night.
“Eat! Drink! Be Yourself!” is the motto at Daddy’s, and they are hopeful that they are representative of what the Denver gay scene could blossom in to: one spot where all worlds collide.
“It’s a struggle daily, but that comes with any business,” Magnuson noted. “We have a great community here and we have an opportunity to make it even better, and that’s what we wanted to do.”
Photos By Charles Broshous