The City, incorporated in 1882, lies in Boulder County roughly six miles east of the City of Boulder and 25 miles northwest of Denver.
In August 1877 the first coal mine,the Welch Mine, was opened and Louis Nawatny, a land owner in the area, platted his farm land
into the town which he named for himself--Louisville. Nawatny registered his plat in February, 1878. Coal miners moved to the new
town to work in the mine.
Louisville is an area that was known as the Northern Coal Field, an extensive coal field in Boulder and Weld County. Wages in the
early days of coal mining were relatively high in the Louisville mines, and the mines were relatively safe. However, because the mining
was seasonal and strikes too often interrupted production, the economy was generally depressed.
THE MELTING POT
732 Main Street
Louisville, Colorado's paranormal activity can be traced back to its coal mining origins. The small Denver suburban town was
founded back in the late 1800's on a coalfield. The mining companies actually tunneled for coal under the town's main street.
During prohibition, the mining tunnels were used by bootleggers to distill and sell illegal alcohol for consumers and to travel back and
forth between speakeasies.
According to legend, a tragedy occurred in the tunnel directly under the building that currently houses The Melting Pot restaurant. A
still exploded in the tunnel, killing three bootleggers and sealing the shaft.
Because of the danger in the damaged shaft, it took rescue workers days to exhume two of the bodies; the third was never found.
Apparitions of the third bootlegger have been witnessed ever since in different locations on Main Street, still trying to follow the old
More paranormal activity arrived in Louisville in the 1980's when a restaurateur decided to build a restaurant with a coal-mining
theme on Main Street. He purchased a 100 year old mine shaft in New Mexico, disassembled it, and rebuilt it at the current
restaurant location in Louisville.
Unfortunately, he had ignored the warnings from the elders of the local Native American tribe in New Mexico The original mine had
been built on sacred grounds and in moving the shaft, the businessman had disturbed angry spirits. These ghosts made the
involuntary trip north to Colorado.
The mineshaft was re-erected, and the restaurant did open, but met with one mysterious mishap after another. Screws in support
beams disappeared, the roof collapsed twice, and breaker boxes kept short-circuiting.
The foreman on the job could not keep carpenters on the job for more than a few days, as they were scared off from strange voices
and nebulous figures that kept appearing. The restaurant did not stay open for very long. Both customers and employees
complained of the same strange sounds and sights.
Today the building is The Melting Pot restaurant.
The owner had experience with haunted buildings, as his other restaurant in Littleton is in a confirmed haunted building.
He brought in a team of paranormal experts to perform a battery of exercises. According to the experts, both the ghosts of the Native
Americans and the old bootlegger now reside in the building, and they do not like each other.
The bootlegger apparently resides deep in the basement. Although all the tunnels have now been sealed up, he tries to prepare his
illegal elixir to move through the tunnels. He performs numerous "quality control" inspections on his batch.
Employees say they hear sounds of a "drunken old man" yelling and knocking over pots and pans. The ghosts from New Mexico
reside in the mineshaft that towers over the downtown area. Spiritualists who have made contact with the ghosts say the spirits only
wish to view the mountain range and to look south towards their homeland.
The tall shaft is glass encased and can be viewed from inside the restaurant and outside on Main Street. These apparitions can be
seen in the tower from the police station across the street in the wee hours after the restaurant has closed and all the lights have
been turned off.
The management at The Melting Pot downplays all the paranormal activity in the building. The staff is very friendly and the food is
excellent. Your server best tells the ghost stories of this building over fondue and wine! For security reasons, the management
keeps the subterranean areas of the building off limits to curious ghost enthusiasts.
Old Louisville Inn
740 Front Street
Louisville, CO 80027
Built in the 1880's.
Welcome to the O.L.I, the Old Louisville Inn. The beautiful antique back bar was built in the 1880s by the Brunswick Company Factory
in Dubuque, Iowa. It is a cherry wood, birch, and mahogany “Del Monte” model, was cut-to-fit and constructed with no nails.
The Brunswick bar spent about ten years in Leadville, Colorado. At the turn of the century this building was built and owned by E.J.
Difrancia, who was Louisville’s agent for Tivoli Beer in Denver. Tivoli worked with him to bring the back bar to Louisville.
It remains one of Colorado’s two oldest antique bars and is a priceless treasure in our community. Due to dangerous gases in the
coal mines, miners could not smoke, so most used chewing tobacco. This is the reason for the copper spit trough (once equipped
with running water) that still exists along the floor of the front bar.
During its early days, the saloon—also known as the Colorado Cafe and the Primrose—had a operating ice house connected to the
building. The original hand-crank elevator was and still is used to bring ice and beer barrels to the basement. O.L.I. is the last
remaining saloon of the original 13 that lined a three-block strip of Front Street.
At one time, most of Louisville’s 22 saloons were connected by tunnels, and their remains still exist on our basement walls, along with
the original coal burning furnace. Miners assisted in digging tunnels to connect the saloons during the summer months.
Because the grade of coal mined in Louisville was weak and brittle, mining only took place during the winter. When Prohibition hit in
the 1920s, the windows were covered up and two skylights were installed to bring in light. The skylight and bevel glass you see were
installed during the establishment’s most recent renovations.
Due to constant labor strikes by the town’s miners and the mining company’s intimidation tactics, Louisville was frequently placed
under martial law by U.S. troops and state militia.
The mining company hired mercenaries to shoot up the downtown area with machine guns from the compound grounds across the
road. The town’s residents frequently spent sleepless nights in the basements. These compounds also had their own saloons, drug
stores, and casinos.
The miners would try and sway strike votes by enlisting their companion/co-worker mules from the mines and count their votes. Due
to the Ludlow Massacre and the brutal violence in Louisville in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson issued a directive stating that no
more immigrants could be brought in by the mining companies to break the strikes.
In its livelier days, the saloon was the heart of the “red-light district” and a brothel operated in the back of the building. The train
workers were always fed by the saloon, making it easy to draw business from the neighboring train station. O.L.I. is also rumored to
be home to a mischievous ghost named Samantha, a harlot who was stabbed to death by one of her customers.
For many years, Louisville was the only “wet town” in Boulder County. It was notorious for its drinking, gambling, and illegal
There is still a .22 caliber bullet hole in the lower front bar, left by just one of the many scuffles that occurred in O.L.I. Around the mid-
1940s, the owner asked a local American Indian man named Cheyenne to paint the three large murals on the walls.
As Cheyenne was known throughout the town for his preference for liquor, the work was done in exchange for a bar tab at the saloon.
The paintings of Colorado’s beautiful changing seasons took only a few days and were completed with a single brush. Until their 1994
unveiling, the murals had spent the better part of 35 years under old wallpaper.
The first major renovations in over 40 years were completed by Garrett McCarthy, family, and friends in 1994. The work required
thousands of hours of labor, as does the continued stewardship of the premises.
Boulder Preservation and the Historic Society both recently honored the McCarthy’s for their “labor of love.” In his “spare time,”
Garrett is a World Championship Gold Medalist in triathlon and has numerous World Cup and international victories to his resume.
He also raced for Ireland for 11 years and was the Emerald Isle’s best athlete during that time. This project was undertaken to try and
link the new Louisville with its colorful past.
It is not known how many patrons have passed trough these doors, but it is our hope that you will be enriched by its history and
continue to enjoy our Irish hospitality for many years to come.
Louisville: Rising Empire Restaurant puts new spin on iconic Colacci’s location
816 Main St
Louisville, CO 80027
Colorado Hometown Newspapers
Empire Restaurant co-owners Jim Cohen and Brendan McManus take a few seconds out of their busy schedules to pose in front of
the bar. Empire opened in January, taking over the former site of Pasquini’s and Colacci’s. Colorado Hometown Newspapers/Chalan
By Chalan Harper
Colorado Hometown Newspapers
For those stepping into Louisville’s new Empire Restaurant, which opened in the old Pasquini’s site in January, the space isn’t your
grandparents’ old pasta joint anymore.
But that doesn’t mean new owners Brendan McManus and Jim Cohen have brushed aside the location’s historical or colloquial
importance to the downtown community.
Those who have dropped by have been relieved to see the iconic neon-lit sign will stay virtually the same, except the logo will be
Empire’s. But that’s where the physical similarities stop.
And although the space has received an updated, modern renovation, Cohen and McManus say they are striving to keep that
“downtown gathering place” spirit — something Colacci’s and Pasquini’s were known for — alive and well.
“We want to be a part of people’s lives — part of the community, not just part of a scene,” McManus said.
McManus, a volunteer firefighter, and Cohen, a chef who has garnered accolades from the likes of Julia Child, leased the space from
the Pasquini family in October, received a business assistance package from the city and spent three months making the well-known
restaurant their own.
And their efforts seem to have reaped success because, although the layout is recognizable, the energy of the space is brand new.
Tables have been cleared to make way for a lounge area, which Cohen and McManus hope to develop into a thriving bar scene.
As far as the cuisine, a charcoal grill sits as the kitchen’s centerpiece.
“It’s the type of place where you can have a three or four course meal, or just a great hamburger,” Cohen said.
Cohen and McManus said that while the foods they serve up may be simple, the ingredients they use are nothing but the best and
the culinary techniques Cohen offers are unparalleled.
Since they’ve been open, however, Cohen and McManus have received one question more than any other: What will become of the
old Pasquini’s sign?
“I love that sign,” McManus said.
When Colacci’s became Pasquini’s, the owners had a metal frame fit over the sign with the new logo, but kept the sign’s iconic neon-
highlighted structure intact.
“The City of Louisville has really shown a sense of ownership (toward this place),” Cohen said. “Everyone wants to know about the
Wanting to keep with the community’s history, Empire has done the same with the sign, removing the Pasquini’s frame and replacing
it with one of their own. The sign will also have new neon, McManus said.
McManus understands that feeling because he shares it, having lived in Louisville for the past 11 years.
Despite the changes to the premises, the locals have been receptive to the new restaurant, Cohen said.
“People were fond of both Colacci’s and Pasquini’s, but they’re excited to have us here,” Cohen said.
And the new owners are happy to engage in the location’s traditional tales, such as the existence of tunnels under the
restaurant left over from the Prohibition days (which McManus substantiated as fact, though the tunnels are caved in),
as well as the ghost that may or may not hang out in the basement.
Though Cohen and McManus say they’ve never experienced anything weird in the basement, Cohen’s daughters swear
they’ve seen things.
But whether people come for the local lore, the fascinating cuisine or to just kick their feet back with a good glass of wine, Empire
aims to please.
“Our goal is to build a restaurant that can be a part of the community for a very long time,” McManus said. “It’s a great place to come
and be a community.”
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