Denver Coffee House Menus: Paris on the Platte, Muddy’s and the Mercury Cafe


I remember sharing a joint with a Muddy's waitress behind the original location. It was the summer of '85 while I was home from my freshman year in college, and I felt like that moment solidified my bona fides as a true Muddy's patron. I loved that place. I still have a couple of old menus somewhere in storage. Those were pinned above my desk at college in Maine. Great memories - at least the ones I can remember. LOL.

In reply to by William Espey (not verified)

Hi William, thanks for sharing your story. It sounds very much in the vein of 80s/90s Denver cafe culture! Let us know if you find your old menus--I'm sure this group would love to see them!

I remember taking a Denver Free University class upstairs at Muddy’s and late night coffee. BTW, I was a half time Librarian in Western History Department 82-83, before the new amazing library.

Hi Susan. Thank you for reading. I'm glad we still have Denver Free University around as a resource. And hello from your old stomping grounds!

Happy New Year, everybody.
I lived in Denver from 1974 until 1978 as a 20-something. I hung out at Muddy's occasionally, but more often at Freeweaver's (on Colfax), which began its life as "The Bare Tit" but the feminists from the bookstore down the street broke its window twice, so they changed the name to something less provocative. It was ironic, because "The Bare Tit" was just a little coffeehouse with a small stage, an upright piano and two male owners with a great espresso machine. (Nothing salacious occurred there. Just music and coffee.) Songwriters like me could get a gig (playing for tips), and spend as much time as we liked there without buying anything.

The more respectable Folklore Center was just down the street, which was a bit more competitive in terms of getting a gig than Freeweavers because just about anybody could play at the latter.

I also remember Elrond's, which was the predecessor of the Mercury Cafe. Great menu.

I have a Denver Public LIbrary story from the old library. It is where I discovered David Bowie, checking out all his LPs. Years later, in 2000, which I returned to Denver for a visit, I was awed by the new building.

Around 1974, I think, when Joni Mitchell came to town with her "Miles of Aisles" tour with the LA Express, I had a state job which only paid once a month (!). I went to the concert with no money and when I found a scalper who had a ticket to sell, I said, "All I have is my Denver Library Card. You can hold it as collateral and I will mail you the payment for the ticket as soon as I get paid." Unbelievably, he agreed, and I was able to go to the concert. Needless to say, I paid him back and he returned my much revered library card!

The other coffee house I want to mention is Sweet Loretta's, which was just on Saturday nights a room provided by the Denver Free University, I believe. It was a solid community of singers, songwriters, poets, and kind people, many of whom are still my friends to this day.

Thanks for this web page. I am sorry I was gone from Colorado by the time all the Gen Xers were hanging out!

Hi Joanne. Thanks for sharing all of your memories! You mentioned several coffee shops with which I was unfamiliar. It's great to know there was such support for the creative community in the 70s. Going forward, I will keep my eyes peeled for info on those cafes.

Love your story about the scalper! Ah, the power of a library card!


Thank you, Laura,
I mis-remembered the location of Freeweavers. It was on 17th Street, down the street from the original Folklore Center.

Denver in the early 70s was a place of many vegetarian cafes--The Whole Earth, for one, on South Pearl or thereabouts--and coffee houses--the Global Village was next door to the Whole Earth. The Global Village had a piano, so the owner --her name was Barbara--let me play music for an hour in exchange for an excellent vegetarian supper. I met my eventual husband there--he worked in the kitchen making carrot juice and also played in a blues band. He put a dollar tip (a lot in those days) and his business card for the band in my donation hat and that's how we met.

Another popular grocery store for vegetarian and health food was the Rainbow Grocery, run by the devotees of the Mahara Ji, who had an ashram in town. That was where I first discovered tofu.

The Saturday Market, which was set up every week in front of the Oxford Hotel, in the neighborhood that eventually got rebuilt once the baseball stadium replaced all the old warehouses, was a great place for bands and folk acts to play for tips. They would set up a nice stage and lots of people were there buying vegetables, etc.

Thanks for your web site; all this history is so interesting, especially since after moving away from Colorado (what a fool I was!) in 1978.

In reply to by Joanne Stato (not verified)

Thanks for the updates, Joanne. What a lovely story about meeting your spouse!

I meant to say that the Whole Earth Cafe had a piano (Barbara was the owner). The Global Village probably had one too; I don't remember.

Why refer to the Mercury Café in the past tense? It's still alive and well at 2199 California, and it's open for dinner Friday night through Sunday night and for brunch Saturday and Sunday.

One way to kill a business is to spread the word that it's already dead.

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