Farewell to Ullr’s: Popular Breckenridge hangout leaves void for many
July 31, 2010
BRECKENRIDGE – A favorite locals’ joint named for the Norse god of snow recently went cold after an 18-year run.
Ullr’s Sports Grill on Main Street went out with a bang last weekend as people crowded in for the final hurrah.
“It’s an icon,” bartender Justin Saunders said, adding many were in disbelief after hearing of the closure.
The bar and restaurant was a meeting place for people getting off the ski slopes in the winter, and it supported a spectrum of local recreation league teams.
But its patronage wasn’t limited to residents. Professional snowboarder Shaun White and players from the Denver Broncos and the Dallas Stars all visited the bar over the years.
Assistant manager Robert Fuller said Ullr’s also had visitors vacationing from across the country who returned to the bar every year.
Recommended Stories For You
“This was their bar to be a temporary local for a while,” he said.
With the lease on the building coming to an end, rent was going to increase to the point the business was no longer sustainable. It’s uncertain what will be done with the property, and the landlord was unavailable for comment Friday.
Former employees have purchased the name and assets and are seeking a new location.
“With any luck, we’ll find a new place to put it back in and get it going,” Saunders said. “We’re victims of an unfortunate circumstance.”
Ullr’s had a large, oval-shaped bar and walls lined with games from pool to pinball and just about everything else one might hope to find in a sports bar.
“Ullr’s was a pretty blue-collar bar,” said Breckenridge-based freelance journalist Devon O’Neil. “I think that’s why a lot of people felt so comfortable there. There was no pretension, ever.”
Fuller said there were plans for a remodeling and purchase of larger televisions.
General manager Steve Pettee said that in the past few years the menu had been expanded among other improvements.
“It’s been two years working hard to get on track and get locals back,” he said.
But for some locals, Ullr’s was always the place to go.
Sterling Czar, a 15-year regular and Breckenridge resident who helped with maintenance over the years, became choked up as he stood in the darkened building surrounded by friends dismantling Ullr’s guts.
“The last big three nights were just phenomenal – like going to a funeral, in a way,” he said.
The bar was closed at about 12:45 a.m. Monday morning at the order of local law enforcement (things reportedly got a bit rowdy).
Local accountant Matt Propst said he remembers stepping into the bar while on vacation Fourth of July weekend in 2002. After moving here, he became a regular.
“I’ve made friends that are going to last a lifetime there: people who work there, bartenders, cooks, patrons … It’s almost like family,” he said. “It certainly felt like the closing of Cheers, the last episode on Sunday night.”
Ullr’s co-owner Kay Pettee said she especially recalls equal representation when games such as Oklahoma versus Nebraska football were on TV.
“I guarantee you it’s always divided in half – and boy, do they support their teams,” she said. “The college games are absolutely the most fun.”
And local leagues for flag football, softball and others frequently benefited from the sponsorship of Ullr’s.
O’Neil said Ullr’s Donkey Punch won seven straight football championships. After big wins, the team returned to Ullr’s to be treated to plates of lobster and New York strip steaks.
“They just always treated their own very well,” he said.
Professional athletes were frequently attracted to the place.
James Boyer, Ullr’s kitchen manager, said the bar hosted a bachelor party for a Denver Bronco that included the team’s defensive linemen.
“They came in – there were Jäger bombs everywhere,” he said.
Saunders said such Dallas Stars as Mike Modano would visit during pre-season training and play the bar’s bubble hockey game.
Dirt biker Travis Pastrana, an X-Games gold medalist, graced the bar’s downward staircase from Main Street a few times, too.
“He was doing a mountain-bike ride from Canada to Mexico and got snowed in in the middle of summer,” Saunders said, adding that Pastrana and others spent their free time at Ullr’s. “They had a good old time.”
In a ski resort town with no shortage of watering holes, Ullr’s struck a special chord with people.
“It was always very real,” O’Neil said. “A little grimy, a little grungy, but that’s why you went there.”