Bye-Bye, Daddy Bruce — and Thank You

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?

The waiting dumpster is almost as big as the restaurant.

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.

Daddy' Bruce's vintage pickup truck might be ready for retirement too -- or maybe not.

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.

Daddy Bruce's Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

8 thoughts on “Bye-Bye, Daddy Bruce — and Thank You”

  1. Bye Big Daddy. Can’t say I’m a big fan of Carolina style either. I prefer KC style Q too. BTW, we would love to hear your thoughts on BBQ joints in Boulder County (Lulu’s, Rib House, etc) and who has the best sauce. It’s about that time! 😉

    1. So many of us hate to see it go. It’s always difficult to say farewell to old standbys. If there were a Bruce Randolph III who was willing to work as hard and long as his daddy and granddaddy, it might go on. But probably not.

  2. In late 1968, my wife, Candy, and I lived at the Rainbox Court next door to what is now Daddy Bruce’s. I can’t remember the name of the people who owned it before the Randoph’s bought it, but it was wonderful and they had a great jukebox. After the sale to Daddy Bruce, his daughter, Vickie Randolph, ran the place for a long time – she was a good friend. Hate to see it go.


    1. Hey David,
      I’m writing a historic cookbook about lost restaurants across America, and I’d love to include Daddy Bruce’s. Would you be willing to speak with me about your memories of the restaurant? If so, please contact me through my website at Thank you!

  3. As a youngster, i lived in Boulder between 90-92…i dont care what style BBQ youre partial to, this man made some of the most delicious BBQ i ever had and I still remember it/think about it to this day…More so, the generosity and kindness they alwayd showed me as a little boy..Nearly everytime I went either by myself, or with my Mom or brother, they would give me free ice cream after devouring the BBQ. You will be missed dearly, Bruce. I always hoped i could pay another visit.

  4. What a miracle this place, Daddy Bruce bbq in Boulder. Great taste and boy was I hungery! All I did was ask and the man gave me a king-sized plate of delicious food free of charge. A real man of God.

    1. This must have been quite some time ago. “Daddy” Bruce Randolph himself passed away some years ago, and his son, “Daddy” Bruce Randolph, Jr. kept it going for a few years. He closed it early in 2012. The little restaurant now houses Snarfburger. And yes, Daddy Bruce indeed practiced what he preached. Every Thanksgiving, for instance, he fed 5.000 needy people a holiday dinner.

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