Gold Pan, Breckenridge’s longest-running bar, declared historic landmark
October 3, 2017
The Gold Pan Restaurant and Bar has survived in Breckenridge for over 150 years, and now it's a local landmark.
In one form or another, the oldest operating bar in Summit County dates back to the same year the Civil War broke out, beginning first as a tented watering hole catering to miners, according to Summit Daily archives.
At the time, the bar was known as Long's Saloon, and established in 1861. The tented structure occupied the same location at 103 N. Main St. that now houses the Gold Pan, with the permanent building being erected there in 1879.
In 1905, another building was added to the saloon, offering a bar on one side and a bowling alley on the other. Through the years, the Gold Pan outlasted Prohibition, serving moonshine out of a back room accessible only through an underground tunnel. Also, it is believed to have played host to the last gunfight on record in Breckenridge.
The business has undergone numerous ownership and name changes since its early days, and it didn't officially become the Gold Pan until 1953. The oldest bar in Summit County, the Gold Pan also boasts having what could be the longest-running liquor license west of the Mississippi River.
Under new ownership again, the proprietors recently applied for a local landmark designation with the town's planning commission.
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The commission reviewed the request on Aug. 15 and, determining the Gold Pan meets the town's architectural, social and geographical importance requirements, recommended town council adopt an ordinance giving the longtime establishment its landmark status.
As noted in a Sept. 5 memo to town council, one of the benefits of the landmark designation is it could make the property eligible for additional grant money. With the planning commission's recommendation, Breckenridge Town Council passed the ordinance Sept. 26 on second reading.
Before the vote, new owner Craig Jones spoke of his plans going forward. Most notably, he said the historic character that's become synonymous with the longtime watering hole won't change, though the name of the establishment will shift slightly to the Gold Pan Saloon and Carboy Winery.
"I do know how important it is to preserve history, and I have a track record of that with Angelo's in Cap Hill," Jones said during the council meeting, referencing a high-end Italian restaurant in Denver's Capitol Hill neighborhood that he and a business partner bought in March 2013.
Since taking over Angelo's, Jones continued, they've worked hard to keep the same feel and ambiance they inherited — "all of those things that are really important to everyone in the neighborhood," he said.
As proof they've done a good job with the Italian restaurant, Jones pointed to a large number of highly complimentary customer reviews on the website Yelp.com, and his goal is to do the same with the Gold Pan in Breckenridge.
Today, a number of locals and visitors frequent the Gold Pan for its music, food and drinks, often after a day on the slopes. That won't change, according to Jones, but they could soon add a new type of clientele, as the Gold Pan shifts its north dining room, which sits empty much of the time, into a new wine-tasting room.
"We will actually be bottling wine by hand in that room. It's going to be a mountainous micro winery at 9,600 feet," Jones said, adding he doesn't know of any others like it. The other side of the Gold Pan will remain largely the same, he told council.
Additionally, there are plans to do "some different things" with the menu, too. Jones said it won't be Italian food like Angelo's, but people should notice the difference with two chefs he described as top-notch in the kitchen.
"We have two awesome chefs," Jones said, "so we're definitely going to try and bring in some people from the food side."
The Gold Pan will remain open throughout the changes. Jones said they hope to have the wine-tasting room and new menu ready by January.
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