Though the history of the Berkeley Inn has been muddied over the years, many know it well as one of Tennyson Street’s oldest-standing bars. And as of August 2021, two new owners took it over: Sarah Kinney and Andrew Peterson.
The couple met in San Diego where Kinney was bartending and where Peterson was stationed with the United States Marine Corps.
“He ordered Bud and I told him there was better beer out there,” Kinney laughed. And the rest was history.
Jokes aside, they found shared experiences in bartending and managing bars. Kinney has been working as a bartender and manager in the industry for 17 years. Peterson owned a construction company in Iowa but would bartend and manage during the winters.
After Peterson’s time with the Marine Corps was over, they ended up parting ways. His parents live in Fort Collins, so he came back to Colorado and has now called Arvada home for the past 10 years.
Despite their time apart, the pair reconnected here in Colorado. They had been talking about buying a bar for years, so after Kinney moved here in July 2021, they made it happen and found themselves with the Berkeley Inn the following month.
They were actually looking at different bars when they stopped into the Berkeley Inn for a drink. That’s when they knew they had found their spot.
“It was exactly the kind of bar we were looking for,” Peterson said. “We wanted that neighborhood bar, the staple.”
The bar was built in 1934 and has remained a bar ever since, Peterson said. Though it’s gone through its fair share of changes, it has been associated with the “Berkeley” name since the 1960s.
The bar was also part of the “Beermuda Triangle,” with the Beer Depot and Tennyson’s Tap (now closed). For decades, the three bars ran back-to-back specials so that patrons of 38th Avenue and Tennyson would never have to go without a drink.
Because of its history, the pair has decided not to make any major changes besides a bit of paint and some more live music with open mics on Tuesdays, karaoke on Saturdays, and live music on Sundays.
“We’re trying to keep the feel of the old bar, just cleaning it up a little bit,” they said. “Minor detail changes.”
The neighborhood itself is growing and transitioning towards more of a high-end, trendy atmosphere, Peterson said, and the pair doesn’t want to compete with that. They just want to be a bar where you can come in and have a cold beer.
The pair agreed that the best part of owning the Berkeley Inn is connecting with the people.
“Especially coming from somewhere else where I didn’t know anybody, everyone’s been really welcoming,” Kinney said.
They’ve especially enjoyed getting to know the locals that have been coming to the bar for 30-40 years and hearing their wild stories.
Some favorites include tales about the place being haunted, patrons driving motorcycles through the bar, and even someone riding a horse up to the bar. There’s also a handle on the wall next to the jukebox that used to lead to the old dropdoor into the famed underground tunnels. And now, Kinney and Peterson get to be a part of it.
“We’re excited to be here and excited to be a part of the neighborhood,” Peterson said.