The Pastime Bar & Cafe: Back Open for Business
© Leadville Today
One of the truly genuine things about living in a place like Leadville is that the history is still right here. It’s not fabricated, or imitated or re-created. The same brick and mortar establishments that once saw such notables as Doc Holliday, Horace Tabor and the Unsinkable Molly Brown cross their thresholds, are still standing. You can go right into these same places, order up a beer and a mouth-watering hamburger in the same spot that these Leadville legends once visited. There’s something cool about that.
And one of these famous, favorite places is re-opening for the summer season tomorrow. The Pastime Bar & Café at 120 West 2nd Street will be open in May from Thursday through Sunday; with the following hours in place: Thurs, Friday, Sat., from Noon – 8 p.m. and on Sunday from noon – 6 p.m. They will be closed Mon-Tue-Wed in May but once the summer season kicks in things could change, so stay tuned.
It’s time to visit old State Street and support the last existing saloon on notorious State Street where there were once 64 saloons. Not only is it a great historic place, with some of the best food in Leadville, but the family has recently re-opened after the losing the family matriarch Jerry Seme on March 3, 2015 . While the place won’t be the same without that fiery red-head, The Pastime employees and family are getting back to work. Support them, they could use the business. So head over to the ATM (cash only) and stay for a beer, burger and one of the best views from a patio you’ll find in The Cloud City.
And for those who don’t know, or have never heard the full story, here’s Leadville Today’s history of The Pastime Saloon.
The Pastime Saloon and Café is located at 120 W. 2nd Street in Leadville, Colorado. Built in 1878, the building served as a dance hall and gambling saloon in the infamous, former Red Light District known as State Street. The Pastime’s early history cites numerous name and ownership changes, including Maxey Tabor, son of Horace Tabor.
In 1879, it was the Atheneum Theater. In those early days, it was considered the most popular, spectacular amphitheater in Leadville. During this short lived entertainment craze, theaters offered physical endurance contests – male and female running and walking matches. The races, the prizefights, and the wrestling bouts were often Sunday’s special afternoon features. At the Atheneum, one of the popular acts was a trapeze artist trundling a wheelbarrow back and forth across the tight rope which was strung out inside the building.
Since the 1920s, The Pastime has been characterized by owners who did not buy and sell overnight, riding out the up’s and downs of business in Leadville. During the Camp Hale days, Army officials had declared State Street off limits, due to its lingering reputation. This made it perfect for local people looking to find an uncrowded place for dining, drinking, and dancing especially on Saturday night.
Over the years, old State Street was plagued by a series of fires, taking a building or two at a time, until most of the old bordellos and gambling halls vanished into history. The early 1950s brought the last great fire, which left standing only The Pastime and The Pioneer, located next door.
In 1938, Frank Seme purchased the building and business, renaming it The Pastime Bar and Café. The business’ hospitality and popularity continued into the 1950s. At one time there were 13 girls on the floor, and two bartenders. The Pastime remains in the Seme family. Roy, Frank’s son, along with his wife Jerry have kept up the family tradition, with their daughter Lorinda for the past 50 years, until Jerry’s recent passing.
Today’s Pastime is still one of the kind. The beautiful back bar has an oriental style, different from any other – old or new – in Leadville. It came from Oro City. The booths are reminiscent of the Gay 1890s manner of decorating, complete with large hand painted mirrors over each table that pay tribute to Leadville’s colorful past.
While the hubbub of live entertainment has toned down a bit from days gone by, the place still gets hopping with a jukebox stocked with the latest tunes, and a couple of pool tables. However, if you look up at the ceiling, instead of trapeze artists, you’ll see dollar bills hanging from the ceiling; test your skill and ask the bartender where the proceeds go.
But for locals, it’s the food that keeps them coming back for more. While somewhat simple in its offering of burgers, wings and chicken, The Pastime’s reputation for food is consistently good! And while May’s weather will determine whether the patio will be open for service, if it is, there’s not a bad seat on the deck.