El Chapultepec Still Serving Up Hot Jazz In LoDo
Editor’s Note: This report first appeared on CBS4’s airwaves in 2008.
DENVER (CBS4) – There’s a nightclub in LoDo which has outlasted the boom and bust cycles of the Denver neighborhood for more than 70 years. El Chapultepec is a favorite haunt for jazz aficionados.
The bar has been serving beer legally since the day Prohibition ended in 1933. Current owner Jerry Krantz grew up blocks away and sold papers at “The Pec.”
He spent enough time hanging around and he married into the family, eventually taking over the bar. At that point, the music of choice was mariachi music.
Then the 1960s came along and with it, plenty of great jazz. Krantz discovered that music was the right tune for The Pec.
“I’ve had all of the world’s greatest play here,” Krantz said.
The pictures of those greats line the walls of The Pec. Among them, a photo of former president Bill Clinton, who stopped by to show off his saxophone skills.
Along the way, Krantz became the king of live jazz with a simple motto, “Bring in the ones people have heard all their lives, but never could afford to see them.”
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Once it was dubbed one of the best jazz bars in the West.
Now Krantz’s daughter, Angela Guerrero, runs the bar for him, but growing up in the jazz world left her a little blasé about some performances.
“Wynton Marsalis came and played and I’m like, ‘That actually sounds pretty good,'” she admitted.
But don’t expect changes now that she’s in charge.
“Daddy’s had it like this since Day 1, so why change it?” she asked.
There’s still pool in the back, plenty of jalapeños on the menu, and the same decorations from when The Pec was last remodeled in 1951.
Krantz said he simply washes and cleans and polishes things up. And that low-maintenance interior attracts jazz lovers of all social statures.
Krantz treats them all the same. He recounts the story of one high roller who wanted a better seat.
“He offered me $50 for the first booth. He wanted to kick the people out. I told him: ‘Hey, they got it. They’re staying.'”
This LoDo landmark may be priceless, but don’t expect to pay with plastic. The Pec is strictly cash only.