Casey Freeman / Colorado Daily
I’ve worked at six different drinking establishments in Boulder (the Colorado Daily doesn’t pay very well — shhh, don’t tell my editor). Some you may remember. One didn’t even last as long enough to have a name. I’ve travelled the world and been to countless pubs, but my favorite watering hole isn’t in Seoul, Dublin, Melbourne or NYC. It’s right here. Whenever I’m back in Boulder, I need to stop at the Sundown Saloon.
The Downer will always have a special place in my heart, but it’s more than pool tables and PBR taps. It’s the people in there that make this place the type of bar I am always happy to frequent. Tony, an owner, and Matt, the manager, recently came to visit my new hometown of Chicago, and we hung out for a night in the Windy City.
These guys knew me from way back. We shared some old stories about Boulder, the locals and the service industry. We caught up on lives and friends. Bartenders are paid to serve you drinks, and as an added bonus, they listen to you. However, Matt and Tony are rare in that they actually pay attention when they are on and off the clock.
Maybe the second or third question Matt asked me was, “Did you find a new local bar yet?” This kind of felt like my ex asking me if I found a new girlfriend, but also that my ex is hoping I move on with my life.
Matt is one of the truly coolest humans I’ve ever met. In a time when I can’t seem to find a single new song that I like, he’s still finding new types of music and bands. In Chicago, we saw the Poison Arrows and FACS. Even though I used to review music, I’m at a loss to describe those bands. Head to the Downer, and Matt will explain.
A long time ago at my 30th birthday party, I freaked out and thought, “What the hell am I doing with my life? All my friends have houses, wives, cars and kids, and I’m working in a bar. WTF?”
Matt took me aside to tell me, “Age — it’s just a number. You’re doing your thing.” Not only did that calm me down, but that’s become one of my life’s mantras.
Some snotty people think bar workers can’t get “real jobs.” Not only do Matt and Tony work real jobs, they have real lives, real friends and fewer real problems than most folks. Do they hate their bosses/jobs/coworkers/customers? Nope. These guys are the most legitimately happy people I know.
Both of these guys are true Boulder love stories. They came here for what was supposed to be a short time, but they fell in love with the mountains, people, school and the scene. Matt and Tony needed jobs, hopped into the Downer and found themselves working there for a few decades.
Maybe their clientele has changed, but the bar and operators haven’t. In a time when Tulagi’s is now a pizza parlor and chain restaurants like Chili’s are taking over the city’s restaurant scene, pop in the true Boulder mainstay: The Sundown Saloon. Tell ’em Casey sent you. See how far that gets you. Really. I am curious.
In case you didn’t know or forgot, the Downer sells more PBR than any bar in the USA. Do you want to know what the Downer Crew drinks when they’re in a new city? PBR.
Read more Freeman: coloradodaily.com/columns. Stalk him: comfyconfines.wordpress.com