More Than a Century of History...
Gary Lee’s started out as a carriage repair…as in horse and carriage…in 1887. When Henry Ford changed the country with the mass production of automobiles in the early 1900s, the building changed with the transportation times. For nearly a century, the building served as various types of auto repair establishments. And then, it sat vacant for 15 years, waiting for someone to see its potential.
The construction was intensive. In addition to being over a hundred years old, a fire had burned over half of the interior. That only added to its character. The wooden beams, ceiling, and painted brick original to the building were sandblasted. The concrete floors were so cracked and uneven, they had to be completely removed to install new plumbing and electrical. As they say in the car world, ‘”She was a frame off restoration!”
The interior and patio of Gary Lee’s was a collaboration between Gary Lee himself and one of his best friends, master welder/fabricator Daron Cook. They met while attending the University of Utah School of Fine Art, and their collaboration at Gary Lee’s is an impressive tribute to the building’s automotive and transportation history.
Both the dining room bar and the back patio bar are steel tube construction inspired by the bar in Gary Lee's grandfather's basement and are designed to withstand pretty much any natural or man made disaster! The bar top is made from recycled wood from a barn in Nebraska and has the added comfort of a bar rail made from (what else?) an old-school padded rail from the Denver Rio Grande Railroad salvaged in Marysvale, Utah.
We have 12 beer taps made from 3 1/2 inch exhaust pipes and 218 Chevy Pistons. Above the taps are pendant lights made from flat head Ford polished aluminum racing pistons hanging from chrome wheel knock offs mounted to the black vinyl, diamond tufted ceiling above the bar.
Like the front bar, the back bar is clad in steel and has thousands of screws, all designed to make it resemble the riveted panels of an airplane. The pulls on the back bar are made from old wrenches.
The tables in the dining room are made from maple flooring from boxcars and covered with shiny epoxy like the bar top. Among the shiny things decorating the dining room and bar are hubcaps, hood ornaments, valve covers, and plenty of other chrome auto parts.
Even the bathrooms are detailed with automotive industrial design. The counters are terrazzo jeweled white concrete made from crushed Bud Light Platinum, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Bombay Sapphire, and sake bottles. Red shop towels in metal baskets and mirrors made from semi truck side view mirrors continue the theme.
And on the largest patio on South Broadway, the car theme combines with the perfect spot for weekend brunches, afternoon drinks, and good times with friends. Sail shades block 80% of the sun on hot days, and when the Denver nights get chilly, our fire pit has cam shafts, pistons, crank shafts and gears to radiate heat. And with the patio facing West and South, you’re perfectly situated for great views of the mountains and sunsets.