Jack Kerouac, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra all regularly performed at El Chapultepec, a jazz venue located in downtown Denver. This legendary venue, otherwise known as The Pec, started out as a simple Mexican restaurant. Soon enough, it was a hotspot in Denver where locals and jazz enthusiasts congregated for over 80 years to hear the sweet stylings of some of the most iconic performers—the best business happening in the 1960s through the 1990s.
The restaurant started having jazz nights on a whim. Yet they became so popular that the owners made it an every night occasion. Politicians, celebrities and Average Joes alike threw back beers and unwinded to the smooth sounds of trumpets, saxophones, and pianos. After concerts, many performers would head over to The Pec and riff with local musicians. The Pec was different in this way from most jazz clubs in the country. Many renowned jazz clubs in NYC or LA charged exorbitant cover charges and hiked up their dinner prices, in attempts to keep the clubs exclusive, whereas the Pec welcomed everyone.
The club started seeing signs of trouble in 1995 when the Colorado Rockies moved to town, building their stadium right across from the club. Performers had to plan their sets around loud games and crowds. After this development, much more gentrification happened to the area, deterring some locals further. Luckily, due to how renowned the club was, they were able to make it. Unfortunately, 25 years later, jazz clubs are not the hotspots they used to be. In wake of the virus and nationwide shutdowns, the famous club had to close down shop in late 2020. The building and the cantina sign are to remain on location as historic Denver landmarks.
Have you ever been to The Pec? Let us know down in the comments.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.