It had been a punishing week. On Monday we landed two new clients. The first, a 30 page business plan that needed to be written by Wednesday night for our client to walk into a bank with the next morning. The second, a website for a solar start up that needed to be designed from scratch and completed by Thursday.
Now it was Friday morning and my business partner Dan and I were guzzling coffee while driving up to Ft. Collins for a meeting with another client. The two hour meeting at a little coffee shop passed like the dream I would’ve had if I’d gotten any sleep the night before.
On our way back to Denver we realized we had an hour to kill before another 3:00pm meeting at Strange Brewing Co. The office was too far out of the way so that meant spending an hour somewhere with laptops and probably more coffee in either a hotel lobby or a Starbucks.
The frantic pace of the week had yet to subside, and as is often the case during such times, neither Dan or I were even thinking about eating. As I did the mental math for timing between our various options, I remembered a great little bar that I’d visited years ago and nearly forgotten about.
I’ve always been a big fan of old, little known, tucked away places to pass the time. After spending several weeks in Europe last year, not much in our relatively new country with its rapid development and constant change compares. Still, there are a handful of nooks and crannies in Denver that evoke strong feelings of nostalgia; atmosphere, values, and service on a level that seem somehow lost in time.
My Brother’s Bar at 2376 15th St. definitely qualifies. Grizzled regulars belly up to the bar or gather around homemade barrel tables and lacquered booths in a space that feels instantly like a second home. The real gem of this little establishment though is the patio, where long-standing, leafy trees and umbrellas galore offer shade from the sun, while light classical music stands in for the usual classic rock soundtrack.
Dan and I were sat in a corner, and while the laptops inevitably came out, the real attraction was this old town atmosphere. It reminded me of a scene that would be right at home in the old Elitch Gardens. Within a span of two minutes, two different waitresses came to greet us and take our order; doubled up, friendly service that’s a far cry from the lackadaisical twenty-somethings at your average chain.
We couldn’t help but tell the waitress that got us first – a pleasant woman named Katrina – about our rough week. She offered surprisingly genuine sympathy and suggested a couple Smithwick’s to help ease the tension. Instantly the day got a lot better. A robin gracefully flew under the pergola – no doubt a regular himself – and took a leisurely drink from the old fountain. I couldn’t help but think that his day had improved as well.
Once we started eating, as usual, we realized how hungry we were. Arguably some of the best burgers and sandwiches in town hit the spot. When the second round of Smithwick’s came and Katrina posited that they were on her, I knew we were ending our week on a great note. Doing so is absolutely key for an entrepreneur; it’s the biggest factor in ensuring your ability to enjoy the ensuing weekend.
As we left I couldn’t help but think that every aspect of the experience – the atmosphere, the diligent service, the excellent food, and even being bought a round of drinks – was part of an increasingly rare ritual in the food and beverage industry. We went into our final meeting of the week on an extremely positive note. It obviously didn’t hurt that we were heading to a brewery.
Next time the stress is mounting and you’re about to pull into your usual coffee shop or restaurant, consider seeking out the amenities of an old-fashioned establishment to while away an hour (or three) and recharge those business batteries.