While I was at the Vine Street Pub interviewing Tim the other day, he had to step out for a few minutes (he was, after all, working), and I got into a lively conversation with the young woman sitting next to me, bouncing a particularly adorable and happy 8-month old baby on her knees and keeping an eye on his hands, which would grab and pull over anything they could: half-empty glasses of beer, menus, the check, you name it. She was incredibly friendly and, when I asked her if she took her family here often, she said that they drove down a few times a month to enjoy the Vine Street atmosphere. She also said that she and her husband would go to the Boulder pubs all the time before they were married and how much they really enjoyed the scene there. In short, this lovely woman raved about The Vine Street Pub, the Mountain Sun, and the Southern Sun the entire time we spoke--probably fifteen minutes or so.
I was genuinely curious to find out if she thought the pubs were family-friendly, and she enthusiastically gave her endorsement. She said that she was kind of puzzled, though: there had probably always been families with kids at the pubs, but before she had kids, she never really noticed them in particular. The whole scene at any of the Sun pubs, including Vine Street, creates such a community-like, friendly vibe that the kids are kind of taken for granted... they're part of the community, after all.
As her husband and daughter returned to the table and they began to prepare to leave, there was a moment--I swear, just one moment--when nobody was looking at where the baby's hands were. And then there was stout everywhere: all over the table, all over Mom's pants, all over the baby. I was safely out of the splash zone but mortified: it as me distracting the mother; I felt terrible. "Is there anything I can do to help?" I offered timidly.
"Yes...you can take this," and she handed me the baby without a second thought. I held him and danced him on my knee--where he was just as happy to see this total stranger's face as he was his mother's--until Mom and Dad managed to get the table somewhat cleaned up. When Mom reached for the baby, I asked if she'd like to clean him up first, and turned him to face her. The tyke had drops of stout all over his face as well as in his hair and all over his hands. She laughingly wiped him down and thanked me for holding him. (Really, it was the least I could do.)
I suppose in other reaturants, bars, pubs and such places this kind of random chaos would be frowned upon, but the staff just jumped in and helped clear the table, the baby got a final wiping-down and the family readied themselves for the below-freezing outside and paid their bill. I tried to apologize about the spill, and Mom shook her head. It was coming. We all knew it. And when it happened, we all just dealt--calmly, laughingly, casually--with it.
You can get great beer at a lot of tap houses and craft breweries and pubs along the Front Range. You can also often find good food and, sometimes, even a kid-friendly atmosphere. What sets apart the Vine Street Pub as well as its sister pubs in Boulder is that this is the norm, and in creating this norm, the sense of community envelops the place, and just makes it that much better. So if you're visiting Denver or Boulder, consider stopping in at the Mountain Sun, Southern Sun, or Vine Street Pubs...especially if you've got kids in tow. After all, why give up a chance to quaff some of the best, totally unfiltered, delicious brews in the area, nosh on some fantastic munchies, and know that your kids are going to have a good time, too (aside from spilling full pints of stout, the pubs all have bookshelves crammed with an assortment of books and games, and they have buckets of crayons and coloring papers as well)?
For more information, check out www.mountainsunpub.com.