For Randy and Patti Henry, it’s not easy being the neighborhood bar when the neighborhood itself is in the middle of a seismic shift. The Henrys are the owners of Davies Locker, a Shaw Heights …
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For Randy and Patti Henry, it’s not easy being the neighborhood bar when the neighborhood itself is in the middle of a seismic shift.
The Henrys are the owners of Davies Locker, a Shaw Heights fixture from the days of 70s disco to 80s glam rock and beyond. Now, they are saying goodbye to the spot where everyone knows their name.
“The owners of the property and building want to remodel the place to reflect the growing housing development behind us,” Randy Henry said.
That development is Oread Capital’s massive Pillar of Fire development, which seeks to convert the area between 84th and 88th avenues and Lowell and Federal boulevards into a mixed neighborhood development with 2,350 dwelling units, parks and room for shops.
It’s a potential change to the neighborhood and Henry said he just doesn’t have it in him to keep up. Davies Locker, at 8845 Lowell Blvd., will officially close Feb 28.
“We never tried to be more than we are. We’ve always been the bar where you can order Budweiser and Coors Light,” Randy said. “We don’t cater to microbrews. You have to know your customers and our customers don’t care for the microbrews.”
Henry said he originally got involved just to provide music.
“I met Louie Veccharelli in 1978. I started out as a DJ here at Davies Locker and then we became partners,” Henry said. “It was only half the size it is today, with a Chinese restaurant next door. Louie took care of the books and ordering while I took care of pool tournaments, bands, and all the DJ music entertainment.”
It’s been 42 years, he said, providing a place his customers could call home.
“In the bar business you need to think a lot about the people,” Henry said. “You have to make people feel welcome. Our customers want to come back because they feel they’re part of the group here.”
The bar’s continued existence is about more than beer.
“Any place can serve alcohol, but for people to keep coming back, they’re going to look for a place where they feel wanted,” he said. “They want a place where it’s more than someone just taking their money and walking off. For us, they like to have a homey atmosphere, not sanitized. That’s what we’ve created here after 42 years.”
It’s forced him to think creatively.
“Running a hospitality business has more challenges than a typical one. It’s unique,” Henry said. “We have to manage the drinking aspect and think about people’s behaviors plus all the other stuff like operations, marketing, staffing, food and beverage, and the customer experience.”
Davies Locker has taken care of several generations, he said.
“We have the old-timers during the day and the younger generation at night,” Henry said. “We’re basically Cheers. I used to coach football and some of my players still come here. The best thing we’ve done for all of our customers is calling them by their name and introduce them to others.”
Names are important, he said. His family and staff have worked hard to make everyone feel welcome.
“When someone’s new and comes to the bar, Patti will introduce them to everyone in the bar,” Henry said. “We’re more of an extended family. When someone dies or gets married, they come here and ask if we could spread the word.”
But it goes beyond just knowing their names, he said. He’s had to know them.
“They want the beers that they’ve had for ever and ever,” he said. “Know your customer base and don’t try to be something you aren’t. Don’t get them to drink something they don’t want to drink.”
Chili and a marriage
He has a lot of memories, he said. The annual Super Bowl events are a bright spot in his memories, he said, and not for the game.
“We’ve always had a Green and Red Chili contest,” he said. “The Super Bowl was second to the contest. We’ve worked on that for years and you need to give them something more than just the game. Same thing with the Broncos games. We’re packed in here because we serve food and basically give a meal away for free. And, they also can have a good time while they’re here.”
It’s personal, too.
“I met Patti here in May of 1980 and married her in August,” he said. “We’ve been married 40 years. She was a cocktail waitress with a day job, and we asked her one day to bartend for us because we needed someone. And, well, the rest is history, as they say.”
He spends much of his time now consoling his regulars.
“One of things we’re dealing with now is people asking `Where do we go now? When you close, we don’t know where to go. We feel safe here’,” Randy said. “Our day customers are probably going to end up at the Elks or American Legion, because they want to go where people know them and that will feel familiar to what we’ve done to create a warm atmosphere.”
People can remain in touch by joining the bar’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/DaviesLocker/, he said.
“We’d like to thank everyone for coming for 42 years. Our customers made us, not the other way around,” Henry said.
He has a list of events planned to say goodbye to his regulars.
“This weekend we’re going to have a three-day party,” he said. “Friday we’ll have a DJ and karaoke. Saturday we’ll have a 1970s dance party and everyone will dress up in the 70s style. Sunday will be a day of remembrance.”
He expects that day to be pretty melancholy.
“We’re inviting everyone to come and fill out cards on why they came here or share a special time they had here,” he said. “And finally, Monday we’ll take things down.”
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