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Denver’s El Chapultepec Jazz Club Closes After 87 Years

The venue had been a mainstay of the Colorado jazz scene for decades

El Chapultepec in Denver, Colorado
El Chapultepec in Denver, Colorado (photo courtesy of KUVO)

It’s not only the New York jazz clubs that are struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. To wit, Denver’s beloved and historic El Chapultepec, a staple of the Mile High City’s cultural and nightlife scene for 87 years, has closed permanently, the Denver Post reports.

Opened the day after Prohibition ended in 1933, the Mexican cantina-turned-jazz club (locally known as “The Pec”) has hosted an incredible swath of musicians that ranged from Frank Sinatra to former president Bill Clinton. Its clientele has also seen its share of celebrity: Jack Kerouac was a regular at The Pec in the early 1950s, and both Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger have dropped in for a set.

“I’ve had everyone in here but Jesus,” said Jerry Krantz, the club’s longtime owner (who died in 2012).

For four decades at El Chapultepec, Wednesday and Thursday nights were reserved for sets by local saxophone legend Freddy Rodriguez, Sr., who began performing at the club in 1980. His last performance there was in early March; he died on March 25 of complications from COVID-19.

The Krantz family has continued to own both the building and the business. Jerry’s daughter, Angela Guerrero, has operated El Chapultepec since her father’s death. It was she who announced the closure on The Pec’s Facebook page. “The decision was multifactorial,” Guerrero wrote, “and though we know it’s the right thing to do, we mourn with you.”