Craig, Andrew, and Kevin Caldwell
After more than 60 years as a go-to Denver nightspot, Club 404 on South Broadway has closed its doors. But owner Jerry Feld, who bought the bar in 1951, when he was a law student at DU, is keeping the spot in the family, so to speak; he's selling the 404 to former DU business student Andrew Caldwell (attd. 2003–07), Andrew's father, Craig Caldwell, and Craig's brother Kevin Caldwell — the same team that opened DU sports bar/burger palace the Crimson and Gold Tavern in 2010. Craig and Kevin Caldwell also own Brooklyn's restaurant near the Pepsi Center.
"The first thing we started talking about when I first met Jerry was that we had Crimson and Gold over here and how it was a DU thing and how I went to DU — you could tell he was happy for it to be going to a fellow DU alum," Andrew says. "It was really cool, the stories he had about stuff when he was at DU that long ago and people that he knew."
The Caldwells have a pair of unique partners for their new venture: Brad Evans and Damon Bruno, founder of the Denver Cruiser Ride. Founded in 2004, the weekly cycling event has grown into one of Denver's biggest summertime parties. During cruiser season, mid-May to September, the bar — which now will be called the Denver Wheel Club — will be the riders' official headquarters before and after its Wednesday-night rides.
"They had always wanted to do a restaurant and bar themselves because they've built this big group of people that they send to other restaurants and bars, so they figured why not be able to capitalize on both ends?" Caldwell says.
In its heyday Club 404 was known for its food, and the Caldwells plan to make that the case with the Wheel Club, instituting a burger-centric lunch and dinner menu like the one at Crimson and Gold and adding a breakfast menu to attract employees of and visitors to the nearby Denver Health hospital
Caldwell says the plan is to change the 404's classic dive-bar interior as little as possible, though the team has put in new floors and painted the walls. (During the renovation they uncovered "Hep Hounds," a '50s-era mural of dancing dogs created by famed animal painter Constance Depler Coleman.) A side room formerly used as a dining area now will be home to pool tables and dartboards.
Caldwell hopes to have the Denver Wheel Club open by mid-February or sooner; follow its progress here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Club-404/157260200963809