Iconic Green Bay Packers bar closed by fire in 2015 readying to reopen — The Know
Wisconsin license plates show up regularly under the front door at the soon to be open Rocky Flats Lounge on May 1, 2018 in Boulder. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)
BOULDER — Walking a visitor through the renovation of the long-shuttered Rocky Flats Lounge, Steve Glennon spoke from the heart about the importance of bringing back the legendary roadhouse that attracted standing-room-only crowds of Green Bay Packers fans for three decades before a fire closed the joint in 2015.
“This place is iconic,” said Glennon, a Wisconsin native who named his golden retriever Lambeau after the Packers’ hallowed home in Green Bay, Lambeau Field. “It’s got to survive — it’s a roadhouse, it’s a dive bar, it’s been the Packers bar. I grew up in central Wisconsin. I grew up eating fish fries. I’ve loved the Green Bay Packers almost as much as I love my dog.”
With that, Glennon confirmed the news that Front Range Cheeseheads have been longing to hear since the fire: Though it took more than two years to begin the rebuild because of insurance, permitting and contracting issues, one of Colorado’s best-known Packers bars should be back in operation in time for football season this fall.
“God, I hope so,” added Glennon, who was a Rocky Flats bartender before the fire and is involved in the rebuild. “I don’t see why not. The biggest things that needed to be done are done. Almost all of the electrical is done. HVAC is going in, then it’s drywall and flooring.”
Glennon is reluctant to predict when Rocky Flats will reopen, although it could be as early as this summer.
Dave Kreutzman, left, and Myles Decker, look over the old kitchen area in the interior of the Rocky Flats Lounge on Thursday August 23 2017. The bar was hit by fire July of 2015 and the two were working on restoring the historic structure. (Paul Aiken, Boulder Daily Camera)
“When we started (rebuilding) last August, we thought maybe December,” Glennon said. “Now we’re looking at June, July.”
The last Green Bay game at Rocky Flats was an infamous Packers collapse in the NFC Championship game in 2015. Green Bay seemed destined for the Super Bowl, leading 19-7 with 5:13 left in the game, but a series of unfathomable mistakes, including a bungled onside kick, led to a 28-22 overtime loss.
“If the bar hadn’t burned, I’d probably still be in the back room sitting there sulking, not believing what happened,” said Rocky Flats regular Lance Rogers. “It was so depressing.”
Rocky Flats typically packed in as many as 300 fans for Green Bay games, most of them with Wisconsin connections — but not all.
Rogers grew up in Fort Morgan and moved to the Front Range in 1983. The Rocky Flats crowd turned his blood green and gold, and he loves the team so much now that he bought a share in the publicly held corporation that owns it. He goes to Wisconsin almost every summer for the team’s annual shareholders meeting at Lambeau.
“It’s just way too cool,” Rogers said. “It’s 20,000 people, they treat you like royalty. When I first got the share, I thought, ‘It’s kind of a waste,’ but I wanted to say, ‘I own a football team.’ ”
The bar owns a share, too. Fortunately the certificate survived the blaze.
Located on Colorado 93 north of Arvada and a mile south of the Boulder County line in unincorporated Jefferson County, Rocky Flats was a biker bar when it wasn’t filled for Packers games or Friday night fish fries. The good times ended, though, in the wee hours of July 15, 2015. Someone driving by the place shortly after 2 a.m. saw flames and called the Jeffco sheriff.
“The night of the fire, I was actually working at my other (bartending) job in Boulder,” Glennon recalled. “I got home, I was in bed and I got a call from the owner at 4 o’clock. He’s like, ‘Get out to the bar, it’s on fire.’ Other than the sheriffs, the fire department, the owner and his wife, I was the next one to come out here for it. I was out here when everything was (still) smoking. Somehow they saved the building.”
The specific cause of the fire was never determined, Glennon said, although it was obvious it began in the kitchen. Workers gutted the interior shortly after the fire, but then things stalled.
Someone at Packers headquarters heard about the fire and reached out to console Colorado Cheeseheads for their loss, sending a football autographed by the team, signed jerseys, posters and a flag. Another care package came a year later.
Beth Jensen, Steve Bergonz, Lance Rogers and Geoff Madeing watch second half action during a Super Bowl party at Rocky Flats near Boulder on Sunday, February 6, 2011. (AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post)
“The Green Bay Packers organization has really been helpful for us, and they don’t have to be,” said Glennon, who grew up in Stevens Point and moved to Colorado 12 years ago. “That’s why places like this have to continue to exist. You can go down to Denver and find modern bars. Everyone wants to be the same, everybody wants to be craft beer. We’re blue collar. We’re going to keep this as blue collar, as country and Wisconsin as possible.”
Glennon put on three fundraisers to help defray costs of the rebuild. One was a tailgate party at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Nov. 1, 2015, a Sunday night game that Packers fans try hard to forget. The Packers and Broncos both were 6-0, coming off bye weeks, and many thought it might be a Super Bowl preview. The Broncos romped to victory, 29-10, and went on to win the Super Bowl, while the Packers began a three-game losing skid.
The new, improved Rocky Flats will have a sliding glass door opening onto a patio behind the building with views of open space which take in the Flatirons. The plan is to make it a thriving sports bar year-round, not just a place for Packers fans to congregate when their team is playing.
“It’s going to be fun,” Glennon said. “The place was great before, but I think we can make it even better. It’s going to be even more Wisconsin than before. I’m going to try to get as many blue-collar Wisconsin beers as I can. Fish fries, Badger games, Brewers games, Super Bowl parties, bowl parties, barbecues.”
Mark your calendars, Green Bay fans: The Packers open the 2018 season with a Sunday night NBC game against the rival Bears in Lambeau on Sept. 9.
“If we open up at 8 in the morning that day, it’s going to be an all-out, day (long) party,” Glennon said. “It’s going to be nuts.”