Remodeled Ace Hi Tavern building aims to maintain, enhance spirit of classic bar

Removations include new exterior, addition of 2,000-square-foot quilt store


One of Golden’s oldest buildings is starting the new year with a new look — and an additional tenant.

Since it first opened inside the historic Opera House Building on Washington Street nearly six decades ago, the Ace Hi Tavern has become one of Golden’s most beloved bars — and one that continues to stand the test of time.

But everything needs a little tender love and care sooner or later and Ace Hi owner Mike Stillman says his bar has received a big dose of just that over the past few weeks.

Many of the most obvious changes have been to the exterior of the building, which has received a new brown stucco face that Stillman said is intended to make the building closer match both its past look and its neighbors. As part of that exterior face-lift, lettering spelling out the name “Opera House” has also been added to the exterior above the second-floor windows.

Then there’s the ground floor, where a new door has also been added to the left side of the building. It now serves as the main entry from Washington Street into the new Gallerie Quilt store that opened late last month inside a walled-off 2,000-square-foot space that had been previously leased to the Foss Company liquor store for cold storage.

“We believe we have the largest quilt selection in the western United States,” said Steve Starr, who owns the store with his wife, Dori.

The Starrs first opened Gallerie Quilt at Colorado Mills 20 years ago before moving the shop to Evergreen and, most recently, Belmar. However, they say they had always sought to move the store to Golden, which has an atmosphere that better fits their store and its focus on selling finished heirloom quality quilts and related accessories.

“We have lots of very western quilts that have a very Colorado feel so we wanted to be some place that had a real western feel to it,” Steve said. “Golden has much more that feel than Lakewood does.”

The interior of Ace Hi has also received several improvements, including a new concrete floor that had to be added after the old floor was damaged by the flash flood that hit downtown Golden last summer. A second bathroom has also been added to the space, an addition which Stillman said was necessary to help relieve the lines that sometimes form outside the woman’s bathroom in particular on busy weekend nights.

In planning the renovations, Stillman said he tried to carefully consider how to best maintain the classic feel many of the bar’s old-timer customers remember and cherish while making changes to improve the look, experience, and safety of the bar. He says those concerns were especially relevant when it came to making changes to the bar’s famous sign, which will be soon updated with some new lettering but maintain the same frame, font, colors and general style.

“It’s going to look a little cleaner and more up to date but we are still going to keep it as close to the old look as possible,” Stillman said of the sign. “We love our old sign. It doesn’t look like 2020 and we like it that way.”

That approach to the sign mirrors the approach Stillman has taken to the business and its renovation as a whole.

“We are never going to be one of those trendy fad bars,” he said. “That is just not who we are.”

Instead, he says the bar is special because it is a place where an eclectic crowd of bikers, cowboys, business people, School of Mines students and other residents can all fit in and be accepted. That type of welcoming atmosphere and sense of gathering and community Stillman says he is intent on maintaining at the renovated Ace Hi, both now and long into the future.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “We’ve got the best staff I could ask for and I couldn’t be more pleased.”


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