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Making the Buffalo Rose ‘a better version of itself’

Community reflects on what venue means to them


Mellissa Newton’s dream job would be to save the oceans.

And to help her move toward that goal, she worked two jobs this past summer so she could pay a year’s rent in advance and fully dedicate herself to starting school.

One of those jobs was bartending at the Buffalo Rose, the well-known and popular live-music venue in downtown Golden that closed Nov. 19 to undergo a remodel. It is expected to reopen in fall 2018.

Newton and other employees, band members who play there regularly and longtime customers say they will miss the eclectic spot at 1119 Washington Ave., but the temporary stay in operations will be worth the wait, owner Chris Cone said.

“The Buffalo Rose is a prominent place in downtown Golden,” said Cone, who bought the building in spring of 2015 knowing it would need redevelopment. “But we never wanted to change its business. . .We want it to be a better version of itself.”

Historical aesthetics of the building will remain, and the venue will continue to serve as a restaurant, full bar and event venue. It will also have a private lounge area and an outdoor patio. What ties everything together, Cone said, will be the brand-new commercial kitchen.

The venue has hosted live music since the mid-1980s, and will continue to do so, Cone said. But the music will cover a larger variety of genres and will be an independent, open venue. That means it will be able to book well-known, local talent in addition to working with outside promoters for other concerts.

Cone also wants to expand to other kinds of programs, such as family game or seniors’ dance nights, and private events, such as gatherings for school teams and weddings, charitable dinners and corporate conferences.

The restaurant also will be renovated to serve gastropub food, which is a new take on classic American and Latin American dishes, Cone said.

“It will hopefully become more of a community gathering place for the people of Golden, while remaining a tourist destination,” said Cheryl Ludford, financial controller for the Buffalo Rose.

And Cone’s vision, said Golden resident Susette Miller, the venue’s front-of-the-house manager, is forward-thinking.

“He does care, and he has the town of Golden’s best interest at heart,” she said. “I believe the remodeled Buffalo Rose is going to be more than amazing.”

Community and band members are excited about the upcoming changes.

Erinn Peet-Lukes, lead vocalist and guitarist for the local bluegrass pop band Thunder and Rain, admits she will miss the Buffalo Rose’s unique, quirky vintage charm. “But another part of me is excited — for the band,” she said. “Audiences enjoy being at a venue that’s meant specifically for live music. It would be good to have a variety of music there to utilize that big venue.”

Friends Judeth Jensen of Arvada and Linda Jacobson of Evergreen meet at the Buffalo Rose for dinner and to socialize about once a month or so. They like its fun, Western atmosphere and its in-between meeting spot.

“We’ll miss the Golden experience,” Jensen said. “We can’t wait to come back when it reopens.”

The Buffalo Rose attracts an eclectic mix of people — local residents, Coors employees, bikers and Mines students, among others, said Littleton’s Bill George, who has been performing at the Buffalo Rose for about 15 years as a solo performer on the patio and previously with a band called Fly Wheel.

“I’m sorry to see it close,” said George, who hopes the bar will have him back to perform once the remodel is complete. “The patio has been my favorite gig. It always has a great feeling and a good vibe.”

“It will be sadly missed during the renovation,” agreed Nancy Jurbala, a solo vocalist who has been coming to the Buffalo Rose with her husband John since the couple moved to Golden 27 years ago. “But we’re looking forward to the reopening.”

Julie Johnson visited the Buffalo Rose on Nov. 13 to say goodbye — to the Buffalo Rose and Golden. She worked at the Buffalo Rose in the early 1990s, but recently bought property on the Western Slope and will be moving away before the Buffalo Rose reopens.

“My heart’s broken. There’s so much history here,” Johnson said. “But I’m so happy to have been a part of the history. I wish them the best on the transition.”


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