The Waterloo Restaurant in Louisville, Colorado

I’m not sure where I heard of the Waterloo restaurant the first time – maybe my hairdresser, who is full of great ideas. At any rate, my adventure bud Laura and I set out recently on a really chilly, rainy weekday afternoon to check it out.

It’s in Louisville, Colorado, about 20 minutes from my place, just north of Denver. I’d visited this little town before, specifically to photograph the bronze statue of John Breaux, which I posted about last year. I love that little town, with its “typical” American main street, parks and homey feel. The Waterloo added to that feeling.

You can see in the photo above how Louisville has built (or allowed to be built) platforms in the street that cover the parking spaces. I think it’s a great solution to outdoor dining in limited space, but parking suffers, of course. In this case, there was ample parking beside the building.

It’s the most Johnny-Cash-centric place I’ve ever seen! Check out the mural on the side facing the parking lot:

Yes, that’s JC himself, who looks a lot like Bogart to me.

Anyway, the Waterloo, dubbed “The ‘Loo” on the website – wonder what British people think of that? – is actually in an old theater building. The Rex Theater, commemorated on a plaque on the building’s exterior, was erected about 1900. It was a movie and a stage theater until the 1970s. Of course, subsequent businesses made lots of mods to the place, but in 2011 the historic facade was restored.

You can tell it’s something special at first glance. Here’s the ceiling on the porch:

Inside the front door is the bar and the ground floor dining room:

Detail of the back wall:

And the clever hostess stand:

And the air-brushed car panel on the wall opposite the bar:

Told you it was Cash-centric:

We chose to dine upstairs. In the stairwell is this fun art:

Here’s the upstairs dining room:

They also have a patio on the roof for dining. There is an appealing brunch menu for Sundays, complete with live music. I’ll have to try that out in the future.

For this day, I must recommend the smoked tomato bisque, especially with weather like we had!

We also had grilled avocado, which I’d recommend, but I can’t show you a picture of it because we devoured it as soon as it arrived at the table.

There was also lots of music memorabilia, kind of like at the Hard Rock Cafe (any of them), but not as much:

And there was plenty of JC and other classic country playing the entire time. We asked the waitress why JC and music? She said that they “just like him”, which seemed unsatisfactory. Then she added that the founders of the restaurant used to own Waterloo records, and that’s where all the memorabilia came from. Could’ve led with that!

When I asked why Waterloo, especially since it’s decorated outside with a London underground sign for Waterloo station, she said she couldn’t remember exactly, but that, when the founders decided to go into business in a restaurant, they were at Waterloo station in London, or “something like that”. Could’ve led with that, too! None of this info is on their website, oddly. But I’m glad to know it.

I’d seen this bumper sticker around town:

And, indeed, it arrived on the board with our check. Near as I can discover, this logo might have originated at a bar in Texas, but I’m not totally sure. All I know is that they are dyed-in-the-wool JC fans in Louisville. And I also know that I would HIGHLY recommend their joint – the food was great, the service very friendly, and the surroundings are really, really interesting!

Photo for No Apparent Reason:

Haunted Denver Underground Tour, Blake St. Vault, and Double Daughter’s Salotto

In a week or so my latest book will be available on Amazon! It’s the next in the series of Photos for No Apparent Reason (PFNAR) you see at the end of each blog post. This edition includes all the pix from 2017. I’ve designed the PFNAR books as a series, so they are all the same size and can be displayed together. I already have the 2015 edition available, with plans for many more. Help a sister out and buy a few!

This week I bring you the Denver Nightly Spirits tour, a haunted tour of the city, if you will. Our former neighbor and excellent friend from Florida visited us last June and wanted to do this. So we found a Park N Ride and took the commuter train downtown at the appointed hour.

Our tour started at a pub called Blake Street Vault, which is on Blake Street (duh) and housed in an Old-West building dating from 1863. It had been renovated in 2007 when the pub opened.

It is the former location of many saloons, boarding houses and, according to our tour guide that evening, a bordello. Loved the old tin ceilings:

I just read online that the pub closed as of the end of 2017, and the building sold for a cool $2.4M. I don’t think there has been an announcement of who might move into the space yet. In any case, I’m glad we saw it last summer.

As our guide explained, the place is named for the vault, which is below the main floor. It is supposedly haunted in several places down there, including the vault. Here’s our guide, in period costumery, telling us about it:

He told us it was locked for many years and there were rumors of piles of gold, etc. However, when they finally opened it, all they found was a stash of ginger beer from the old days:

In the same underground area was another “haunted” spot, which had a legend to go with it about some military captain or whatnot (I forget):

And the place where the staircase was that the prostitutes used to use to keep the Denver businessmen happy in secret:

I found the floor joists interesting:

After the Vault, we traipsed through the downtown area for a few blocks, noting the underground passages that were or still are:

Our guide told us many ghost stories, and we stopped for drinks in three or four bars. It wasn’t that riveting, except when we came to Double Daughter’s Salotto!

It is so-named because it was owned by a circus-performer whose daughters were conjoined twins. The interior of the place reminded me of the Beetlejuice movie scene where the furniture comes alive and dances to the Day-O song! Note the ax-handle railing on the upper deck, the Tilt-A-Whirl-type booths and general funkiness of the surroundings.

The pictures don’t do it justice, though. It was much darker with blacklights and other touches. The ladies’ room was supposedly haunted, but I didn’t see anything unusual, except for the funky decor in there, too. But I loved this place! Whoever decorated was going for a weird circus atmosphere, very Tim Burton, and they nailed it. When you come to visit, we’re going there!

The tour ended at the Union Station, Denver’s beautiful central transportation hub, which I’ve written about before. Our guide pointed out a couple of places where some ghosts appear from time to time. Again, I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, and haven’t since (I check every time I’m there), but he claims he’s seen both spirits. After tipping our very enthusiastic guide, we wearily boarded the train to our Park N Ride and made our way home, exhausted.

I thought the tour was fun, but it ran WAY over the two-and-a-half-hour estimate given on their website. It was more like four hours or more. That would be my only criticism because we were fried by the end of it, especially because of the record-high heat of that day and evening. Underground Denver was interesting and seeing some of the local watering holes was good for us newbies. Tickets cost $25 per person and you can book online.

Check back next week for another of the places on this tour: the Oxford Hotel and Cruise Bar.

Photo for No Apparent Reason: