THE PIG‘N WHISTLE
4801 W. Colfax Ave.
(Former address of THE PIG‘N WHISTLE)
In the 80s I had the good-fortune of being able to travel around the Southwest and Mexico in a small motorhome. Every so often, maybe once a week, I’d check into a cheap motel to do laundry, take a long hot-bath, have a good dinner, then relax watching HBO or such on the tube.
When in Denver I spent time at some of the motels on West Colfax, motels such as (I’m lucky to have crossed stars with this classic Lakewood diamond, before her demise) “THE PIG‘N WHISTLE: EDDIE BOHN’S EMPIRE ON WEST COLFAX.”
Both the motel-complex and the restaurant were collectively called 1THE PIG‘N WHISTLE.
THE PIG‘N WHISTLE motel-room in which I stayed was 50s-stylish with paneled walls (maybe knotty-pine,) subdued lighting, thick shag-carpet and very tasteful appointments. As I recall it had somewhat of a Polynesian-like vibe. Of course by the time I had the pleasure of staying in one of the rooms, it was indeed evident that a number of years had gone by since the motel’s heyday; to borrow a phrase from my “good friend,” Tom Waits, “a faded beauty.”
The “most-happening-bar-in-the-city” was dug-in up-front like a great barrier-reef, protecting the inner-sanctum of the restaurant from any evil that might drift in from America’s longest and baddest (continuous) street, Colfax! Playboy magazine once called Colfax “the longest, wickedest street in America.” One had to pass through the long bar and past the mighty gaze of Eddie Bohn to get to the restaurant. Depending on which side one was on (good-guy or bad-guy,) when Mr. Bohn was inhouse, one felt either a sense of security or intimidation. My memories of the cocoon-like restaurant are of blue/green walls and large cartoon-figures depicting the shenanigans of little pigs, those images wrapping entirely around the inside perimeter of the restaurant. I especially remember one little pig with a flute. At least that’s my memory.
The food was steakhouse/chophouse-cuisine with fried this and seared that: ribs (of course,) steaks, fried-chicken, meatloaf etc. with all the trimmings, especially baked-potatoes with lots of butter, and mounds of fries. Red-Ketchup and Yellow-Mustard bottles manned the bar-top like Roman centurions. I remember a -sort of- circus (in a good way) atmosphere. Like “the former sparring partner of 2[Jack] Dempsey for three years in California;” like the politician and restaurateur himself, Eddie Bohn, this restaurant was rubbing elbows with champions. And it’s owner was a champion in his own right. “Earl W. “Eddie” Bohn was born in 1902 to German immigrants in Denver. When he was 18, Bohn moved to California and started his boxing career. Soon after, Heavyweight World Champion Jack Dempsey hired Bohn to be his sparring partner and in 1924 Bohn himself was crowned the Rocky Mountain Heavyweight Champion.” – quote from DiscoverWestColfax.Com
Left: Joe ( Awful ) Coffee, Middle: Eddie Bohn, Right: Gene Fullmer
“The Pig,” as the Pig N’ Whistle was affectionately called, saw many legends pass through its doors. Boxers (Jack Dempsey, Max and Buddy Baer, Primo Carnera), sports’ heroes (Yogi Berra, New York Yankees’ manager Billy Martin, tri-athlete Babe Zaharias), actor Roy Rogers, politicians (Governors “Big Ed” Johnson, Steve McNichols and Mayor Bill McNichols), astronaut Wally Shirra and musicians (Vic Jurgens, Eddie Howard, Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey) all frequented their beloved “Pig.” Bohn’s famous Pig N’ Whistle gave him the nickname “The King of West Colfax.” “The Pig” was even featured in the Clint Eastwood movie “Any Which Way But Loose.” Bohn’s reign lasted until he shuttered the Pig N’ Whistle in 1991 and Bohn passed away the following year. In 2010, the building burnt down but the iconic “Pig N’ Whistle” sign still stands on 4801 W. Colfax Ave. Read more from…Discover West Colfax.Com
Eddie Bohn’s Pig & Whistle in the early days
“I never went very far in school and I didn’t learn very much when I was there, but I sure learned a hell of a lot on the way there and back”
Here’s an article about Eddie Bohn and THE PIG‘N WHISTLE:
THE PIG ‘N WHISTLE: EDDIE BOHN’S EMPIRE ON WEST COLFAX by Keith Chamberlain
1Due to different sources, there are variations of the spelling/punctuation of PIG’N Whistle in this post. I’m using PIG’N Whistle because that’s how it’s laid out on the original sign.
2One Punch Hancock, a borrowed name, and a Jack Mormon who “forgot to duck:” read about Colorado’s own, William Harrison (Jack) Dempsey.