It’s been almost two years since Boulder’s beloved Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery shuttered in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But as of early this month, drinkers can once again return to the cozy restaurant on Pearl Street for a burger and beer.
Opened in 1993, Mountain Sun was the first of five pubs owned by Kevin Daly, but it’s the second-to-last to reopen following initial pandemic closures. His revered Vine Street Pub & Brewery in Uptown Denver remains closed to the public; however, the onsite brewery is operating to supply all the other bars with house-brewed beer.
Daly’s other watering holes — Longs Peak Pub & Taphouse in Longmont, Southern Sun Pub & Brewery and Under the Sun Pub & Pizza in Boulder — were able to open again in August 2020 because of their abilities to accommodate outdoor seating. They all closed briefly from December 2020 to March 2021, but have been serving guests ever since, Daly said.
“Mountain Sun is small. It has no windows and one door,” he said. “That’s why we waited this long to open.”
It was also important to Daly to keep the integrity of the experience for returning customers, meaning no QR codes and no “touchless this and all that.”
Though the extended closure was intentional, it had its own challenges. Daly was able to retain one management team, but most of the staff between all four now operating locations is new.
“While we were closed, we had a lot of long-time employees who made the decision to move on to other things, and I applauded them for that,” Daly said. But now, “I’m literally training people how to count quarters again.”
Still, Mountain Sun’s reopening is a milestone for Daly and the Boulder community. Many who attended the first day back in operation commented on how it felt like a return to some sense of normalcy, Daly said.
While there’s no target date for Vine Street’s reopening, Daly promises that it and Stout Month, an event when all the pubs serve a hefty collection of stout beers, will return in the future. Until then, his goal is to survive and thrive, both personally and at the pubs.
“Life is short. I lost three friends during the pandemic and I’m not going to kill myself,” Daly said. “I want to make sure the burgers are perfect, the beers are great and the service is amazing.”
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