Tucked in the corner of 34th and Navajo Street in LoHi lives a family legacy, and Kourtnie Harris and Steven Sharp plan on preserving it.
Harris and Sharp, who are married, opened The High Lonesome bar at 3360 Navajo St. in 2016. They rented the space from the Bruno family, who had owned the property since the Great Depression. The family operated a bar called the Arabian there for decades, closing it in 2012.
After seven years of operation, the couple purchased their bar’s real estate last week in a $1.49 million sale.
Genevieve Bruno Pritchard and Vincenza Bruno Garr, daughters of the original owner, left the property to their children after their death. Harris said the children thought there were too many owners involved and decided to sell.
“The owner, one of her wishes was that the place remained and didn’t get torn down,” Sharp said.
Harris and Sharp felt the same, and feared they’d have to close the bar if a developer bought it. So the couple took money they’d been saving to expand The Universal, a restaurant they opened in Sunnyside in 2012, and put it toward buying the LoHi property instead.
In addition to the bar building, the purchase included a 1,500-square-foot house at 3358 Navajo St., where some of the Bruno family originally lived.
Harris and Sharp said the house has long-term tenants that can stay as long as they’d like. If the tenants move, the couple would consider moving into the house themselves.
“Honestly, the less that happens there the better,” Sharp said.
Sharp said The High Lonesome was the result of a desire to open a bar that felt true to Denver amid a boom of new eateries and watering holes.
“It’d be great to open a bar that is an ode to Denver’s past,” he said of his thinking.
Sharp said he doesn’t consider The High Lonesome a dive bar, because that term is often associated with cheap spots that can be run down and “grungy.” But he said most dive bars started as nice, small neighborhood spots — and The High Lonesome is a tribute to that type of place.
When a friend and business supporter showed them the 1,200 square-foot building years ago, Sharp said it was exactly how he imagined his dream bar.
Inside the High Lonesome feels like a classic bar, Sharp said, with deep red stools against wood paneled walls and hardwood floors. The art showcases historic Colorado and western rodeo scenes. There’s a pool table in the back with a jukebox tucked nearby and no TVs in sight.
“We wanted a bar where people got to know each other and the bartenders,” Harris said.
Between the Arabian and The High Lonesome, Sharp said, a few other bars tried to open in the space, including Barry’s@Highlands and Local Bar. But none lasted more than a year.
The bar wrapped up last year with $580,000 in revenue. Harris said The High Lonesome has seven employees and The Universal has about 20.
“It’s become a special spot in that neighborhood and now we get to keep it there for as long as possible,” Harris said.