History of the Cricket
The term “legendary” is overused these days. But the Cherry Cricket lives up to the lofty classification and the revered reputation it holds as a bastion of classic neighborhood-bar culture.
Mary Zimmerman opened the original Cherry Cricket as “Mary Zimmerman’s Bar” in 1945. The bar was actually the living room of her home, which sat where the Sears Auto Center is today. Her customers were mainly garbage truck drivers working at the Denver trash dump, now buried beneath the Cherry Creek Mall site. (Yep, this was one of Denver’s first successful “recycling” endeavors.)
Around 1950, Zimmerman purchased the property at 2nd and Clayton where she built what is now the Cricket’s main dining room. Over the years she added to the structure, increasing its size to accommodate a growing clientele.
After Zimmerman’s death in the early Sixties, the Cricket changed proprietors a couple times before ending up in the capable hands of Bernard Duffy. Duffy gained local bar-culture fame as the owner of the equally legendary (and now shuttered, sniff-sniff) Duffy’s Tavern in downtown Denver.
Duffy installed the classic neon sign that now graces the front of the building and carried out a number of improvements at the Cricket. One of the most notable was a hugely popular $2.50 prime rib lunch buffet. (History says Duffy was a thrifty ‘tender who rarely offered a round on the house.) Duffy retired in 1972 and sold the bar.
Over the following years, The Cricket was decked out in much sports memorabilia, making it one of Denver’s first sports bars. Sadly, the Cricket also gained a reputation for bringing a “dump” back to Cherry Creek. (Along with some of Denver’s surliest waitresses and a contingent of six-legged visitors.)
But Eli McGuire and her husband bought the bar in 1990 and returned the Cherry Cricket to its former glory. Under her watch, the Cricket took on more customers and more space for those craving a cold beer and a great burger in a friendly, unpretentious setting.
Today, the Cherry Cricket’s clientele includes working stiffs, old schoolers and shoppers taking a break from chic hunting. It also welcomes a younger crowd, business lunchers, and familes who savor the aforementioned “legendary” status of the Cricket.
After Eli’s passing in 2000, Wynkoop Holdings purchased the long-lived landmark. Today, the Holdings team and Cricket staff are honoring Eli’s dream of making the Cherry Cricket “the best damn bar around.”