Locally owned, independent restaurant.
Picture this: Summer 2001 and Gary is on Panic Tour. He hit one of the best shows ever in Paolo Soleri Amphitheater in Santa Fe, New Mexico followed quickly by Red Rocks. This would be the last time that Gary would have the freedom to just go “on tour”, but it was the opportunity of a lifetime. The owner, Allen Major better known as Cactus Jack was ready to sell the business.
Cactus is a man of many talents. In his past, he has been a pilot, public speaker and a stand up comedienne. In fact, he was runner up on a Showtime Comedy Special Competition to now legend Ellen Degeneres. Allen was the best man in our wedding and holds a dear place in our hearts. Allen Major owned Cactus Jack’s 5 years prior to selling the business to us.
2001 was a roller coaster. Even though Gary had been in “the business” for many years, it was new to be in charge. He was especially worried about losing the amazing clientele that Allen had been able to build. It was very important for him to not change too much too quickly. Cactus Jack’s was always your locals bar. When he first bought the bar, it was a genuine dive bar. The food sales were 15% of total sales. Each summer we grew with recognition in 2007 Best Bar on the Denver A-List. We were also recognized by Evergreen Rotary and the State of Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment for our efforts in sustainability. We were getting on the map! Getting noticed!
Business went on as usual. Each summer we were busier than the last. Each winter we were slower than the last. Evergreen didn’t have many restaurants which we believe hurt our business. Evergreen never really had a food scene until recently. Now more people in the community support local business better than ever. We have proof of that.
In 2013, on Friday the 13th, Cactus Jack’s flooded. It rained for several weeks straight which led the creek to rise and pick up speed. We remember the night we had to shut our doors for the first time in 18 years. It was midnight and we cleared out the bar of patrons. My employee, Stephanie Wright (owner of Cast Iron Tavern in Golden…check them out. Yumm!) Turns to me and ask if she should start her closing side work. We had carpet at the time and I turned to her and pointed to the water coming in the front door. “I think we are good” as we rushed outside with our personal items to watch the water seep in. That lasted for four days. Needless to say, the bar was flooded and the deck was destroyed. We were shut down for 4 months where we excavated and rebuilt. In the first 9 days of rebuilding, Gary fell through a floor joist and broke his tibial plateau. 5 surgeries later and he will still someday need a full knee replacement. That didn’t stop us from reopening with the help from this great town, Evergreen.
The Elks Lodge of Evergreen had a fundraiser for the victims of the flood. We were awarded enough money to buy seating for our restaurant. This was a significant and symbolic gift to us. The chairs represented patrons to us and without our patrons we wouldn’t be here. We were also awarded our first of many Disaster SBA Loans (haha). We never thought we would need another one, but 2020 proved us wrong. Allen Major was critical in our rebuild. He essentially fronted the money for the rebuild and had to fight tooth and nail for reimbursement from his insurance company (don’t use Llyods of Londan). Cactus Jack’s would not have reopened if it weren’t for Allen Major. Thank you!
Since the flood, business had been on the upswing. We had a new purpose. It was to become more of a restaurant than a bar. Coincidentally, we (Gary & I) had stopped drinking a month and a half prior to the flood. When the flood happened, we relapsed and had a Jameson drinking binge for a week. Along with the building, we rebuilt our lives better. We reopened in December and have never looked back.
When 2020 COVID 19 Pandemic began we knew it would be a struggle. Immediately, we went into Survival Mode. Evergreen…you stepped up. We had one of our slowest months to date, but having any sales at all was remarkable. We knew we were going to take a loss, but it became apparent to us that our employees, rather our family of employees would need help. We are pleased to announce that we only lost one employee during the first several months of the pandemic and it was her choice to stay home.
Our employees kicked ass during this time. We are still recovering from the pandemic and appreciate your support by coming in. They were never given off any time to quarantine. From the get go we were considered essential. I am so proud of our staff during this difficult time. If anyone ever tells you that restaurant workers aren’t hard working professionals. THEY ARE WRONG. We have realized how important our staff is once again.
There are too many stories to share of our friends from Cactus Jack’s who have found love, heart break, had children, gotten divorced, started businesses, beat illnesses and died. This is not just a restaurant its a family. We are proud to be part of so many peoples lives. It has been the ultimate experiment for us to make this the best place for you to enjoy.
Did we forget to mention that we have two amazing sons, Gus & Jack. They both graduated from Evergreen High School within the last few years. Our son Gus was working in the kitchen here at Cactus Jack’s. He finished with a culinary certificate from Warren Tech while attending high school. He has put those skills to good use. He now has moved to Ft. Collins and is working at Whole Foods. His first 3 months he was awarded Employee of the Month. Our son Jack attends school in South Carolina pursuing a degree in PGA Management. (Yes, that is a thing). He works for us during summer break from University. We are very proud of our kids. They are kind and gentle human beings who have great empathy for others. We need more allies like this in life.
When you walk through the doors of Cactus Jack’s you will see the best of what Evergreen has to offer. We have an eclectic crowd, where all are welcome! We have partnered with Evergreen Coalition for Racial Justice to help make this mission happen. Please if you ever witness hate, please contact a manager or owner. It is NOT acceptable. We believe you should treat others how you want to be treated.
We have a passion for music at Cactus Jack’s. We have access to some of the best local bands in Colorado. We feature music on Friday nights, Saturday and Sunday afternoons, in the summer. We also have a live open mic night twice a month. Don’t forget good ole karaoke every Saturday since the beginning of time. Please check the event calendar for more information.
Check out our Youtube Channel for archived shows. If you would like to book a band, please email CactusJacksStaffRocks@gmail.com. The calendar fills up fast so get your requests for summer in early. We never charge a cover (unless it is a fundraiser or really good band).
Lastly, we would like to acknowledge our managers, Stokie and Charm. They do so much to make this place to run. If you see either of them, please let them know how good they are doing. Cactus Jack’s for the first time in our history is firing on all cylinders. The food and service are consistently good. In large part credit goes to these two. They work hard and play hard.
We want to thank you for an amazing 21 years and look forward to another 21. We turned legal this year! If you turned legal too let your server know. We have a gift for you. We plan on continuing our passion for this community and ways to improve it. Gary and Megan are on numerous Boards in the Evergreen area. Please view our weekly blogs for updates.
Evergreen is a special place. Enjoy it!
Gary & Megan Mitchell