Boulder barbecue landmark to close & a tradition to end
Daddy Bruce’s Bar-B-Que is most likely closing this coming week after more than three decades of feeding hungry students, some members of Boulder’s small African-American community and anyone else with a taste for the the vinegar-based barbecue favored in the Carolinas and other pockets of the South.
Bruce Randolph, Jr., whom we might call Daddy Bruce II, has sold the little restaurant/take-out place at Arapahoe and 20th Street to a real estate developer, according to the Daily Camera, and at age 85, is ready to pay off some bills and retire. The paper reported that the buyer, Rockrimmon Real Estate, is looking to lease the little building, but there’s already a dumpster alongside, so who knows?
I love almost everything about Daddy Bruce’s — the modest little building, the piano that someone occasionally plays, the home-away-from-home nature of the place, a generous lives lived by two generations of men bound by blood and the same name. Alas, I love everything except the food. In my 22½-plus years in Boulder, I haven’t eaten there all that often, for in truth, I prefer the tomato-based barbecue style of Kansas City to the vinegary style of the Carolinas. And I don’t care for the white bread that, practically by law, accompanies Carolina ‘cue. I wish I could have shifted my palate to patronize Daddy Bruce’s Bar-B-Que more often, and now, I can only hope that Boulder — like Denver — finds a way to honor the son as Denver did the father.
The late Bruce Randolph, Sr., the original Daddy Bruce, opened a barbecue restaurant at 34th and Gilpin in Denver, where he was known for his generosity (among other good deeds, he fed thousands at Thanksgiving every year out of his own pocket). The Epworth Foundation’s online story of Daddy Bruce’s life provides insight into the life of a black man who was born in the segregated South and eventually found his way to Denver, where he lived to see 23rd Street become Bruce Randolph Drive.