Manitou Weird

Ingrid Angelica Henderson at Anna's Apothecary in Manitou Springs.

Joshua Hardin

Matt Milar grew up in Manitou Springs, graduated from high school there in 2002, and tends bar at The Keg downtown. He serves enough people from out of town to know that what’s weird to them is an everyday thing for him. One example: the former porn actress and drug addict who once lived above the bar.

He recalls a negative online review, one star from an out-of-town visitor, who complained about the drug-addict lady from upstairs seating people and cleaning tables. Milar laughs about it now – “We might have more people come in because of that review to see that lady than those who stayed away,” he said. Milar spoke as he served a local regular, Rick Boccardi, an ex-convict who served 10 years in 24-hour-a-day lockdown at the Supermax prison near Florence. Boccardi sometimes works at The Keg. He prefers the people of Manitou, because “they don’t have a preconceived notion of others.” The freakiness of Manitou makes sense to Milar, who said he has a “weird theory” to explain it. While attending college at the University of Colorado-Boulder, he took a class in Russian fairy tales. One common theme in these tales is that mountains attract “alternative-thinking” people. Manitou Springs is in the shadow of 14,115-foot-high Pikes Peak.

Manitou Springs’ eccentricity can be whimsical – llamas on the sidewalk, houses and hair colored bright pink and yellow – but sometimes the weirdness involves one-upmanship, a game of I’m crazier-than-you. So, when it came time to design and build their Red Dog Coffee and Cafe three years ago, longtime residents David and Laura Thomason opted for something less freaky: a bright and open look and feel – hiring friendly, entertaining baristas and hanging colorful art on their well-lit white walls.

The Thomasons’ daughter Danielle, 25, who expects to someday own the place, said the cafe’s animal theme arises from family life. As she grew up, her mother became a dedicated animal lover, bringing home the family’s first dog when Danielle was 8. Then their home hosted a dog-sitting business. Now, whenever she’s in a business meeting in the cafe and a dog arrives, her mom leaves the meeting to greet the dog, first giving it treats and then spending time with the dog’s owner.


For the rest of the story see the November/December 2019 issue of Colorado Life.

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