The stretch of Highway 93 between Boulder and Golden offers little in the way of civilization.
There is an expansive view of Colorado’s wide-open spaces and the foothills that serve as a doorway to the Rocky Mountains. There are few large structures, maybe a couple of gas stations, the skeleton of an old nuclear plant, and a roadside bar that many consider too ominous to bother visiting.
The bar, Rocky Flats Lounge on 11229 Colorado 93, appears on the horizon as a shabby tavern — a seasoned biker bar — that often inexplicably has a parking lot brimming with cars.
Especially when the bar’s home team, the Green Bay Packers, are on a playoff run.
The Lounge has stood for about half a century, according to its manager, Mike Bunn. It began as the payroll office for the Rocky Flats Nuclear Plant in 1952, and was later transformed into a bar in 1959.
“A lot of people don’t come in here because it looks like a shady place,” Bunn says. “In spite of its looks, it’s still an amazingly friendly bar.”
Since the early 1980s, the Lounge has come alive on Friday nights for its Wisconsin fish fry. The Friday-night fish fry is typically a phenomenon found in the Midwest, and it started out as an event that catered to the Catholic tradition of forgoing all meat except fish on Fridays during Lent. According to Bunn, Lent also tends to be the busiest season for the fish fries at Rocky Flats.
Mick Coady, a Golden resident who has been to many fish fries in the Midwest, says those at Rocky Flats are “spot on” to what he would find back in Illinois.
“We love the atmosphere. We love the food, and it’s convenient for us,” Coady says. “It’s consistently good — that’s why we keep coming back.”
Fish fries at the Lounge start at 5:30 p.m., with a choice of walleye, perch or catfish all shipped in from the Great Lakes area and served with coleslaw, a baked potato or French fries, and garlic or rye bread.
And the Wisconsin spirit accompanying the introduction of the fish fries at Rocky Flats has been drawing in local Green Bay Packer fans every Sunday during football season for almost 30 years, Bunn says. The Lounge’s walls are decked out with green and gold, its TVs topped with foam cheese heads. With the Packers’ successful playoff run this season and berth in the Super Bowl against the Pittsburgh Steelers, recent crowds at the Lounge have been even more boisterous than usual.
During Packer games, the bar features grilled burgers and brats on the back patio, as well as its top-selling appetizer of deep-fried cheese curds.
Nick Gnant, a Boulder resident originally from Milwaukee, says that the food at Rocky Flats reminds him of home.
“It’s the only place I know of in Colorado where I can get food that tastes like it’s from Wisconsin,” Gnant says.
Bunn, who is a Detroit Lions fan, says that one word to describe the fans of his Green Bay rivals is “die-hard.”
“They come out winning season, losing season,” Bunn says. “Good or bad, they’re out there watching.”
Despite his loyalties, Bunn says that everyone at the bar is always good-spirited and friendly.
Bruce Payne, a Rocky Flats regular from Boulder, says that he loves coming to the Lounge because of its genuine and welcoming environment.
“I’m addicted to this place because, as long as you’re upfront about who you are, people will accept you for it,” Payne says.
Packer games, Bunn says, are always a busy time for the bar. During especially important games, like the one played two weeks ago against the Chicago Bears, the parking lot fills up and people begin parking their cars along the highway.
For the Super Bowl, Bunn anticipates hundreds of customers, with many showing up at least an hour before the bar even opens and remaining there for the entire day. The Lounge will be taking extra measures to make sure things run smoothly on Sunday, with a beer stand outside and quadruple orders of everything.
“We’re as ready as we can be,” Bunn says. Gnant, who has watched many Packer games at Rocky Flats this season, says that he will try to get to the bar early on Sunday to snag a table. The loyalty of true Packer fans, he says, is always incentive enough to make the trip out to the Lounge.
“It’s cool to be 1,000 miles from home and be surrounded by your own people, regardless if they’re from Packer Country,” Gnant says. “Go, Pack, go.”