Band, beer, dancing to close out Cattlemen’s Days
Every college town needs a college bar.
That’s according to the man who built The Ramble Inn about two miles north of Gunnison on Hwy. 135 — now known as Garlic Mike’s, an Italian restaurant.
On Saturday, July 14, tables will be cleared and a dance will be held returning the building to its former glory to close out Cattlemen’s Days. The event also will celebrate the building’s opening exactly 60 years ago.
Built in 1958 by original owner Leo Klinker, The Ramble Inn was a “3-2” bar, meaning it served beer with a lower alcohol content. Therefore, anyone over the age of 18 could be admitted. That made it perfect to serve students at then-Western State College.
Klinker said he built the business because he wanted to move to Gunnison and thought the idea of a 3-2 bar would really take off. Even he was surprised at the business’ success.
“The original Ramble Inn was built like a fishing cabin — in case my original idea failed,” Klinker said. “We were young and it was a lot of fun — it was one of those things that worked out. And the college kids loved to have a good time there.”
A band played every Friday and Saturday night, Klinker said, but the place also was busy on Wednesdays, following fraternity meetings on campus.
The establishment even earned the motto, “Ramble Inn, stumble out.”
Locals Keri George and Vicci Caricatto laughed when they were asked to recall their days at The Ramble Inn.
“It was the place to be,” said George, while Carricato remembered getting “busted” by school administrators for even being in the bar.
Klinker sold The Ramble Inn in 1962, just a few years after he built it, so he could focus on his other business, The Last Chance. The “Chance” was bigger and boasted a location within the city, requiring more of Klinker’s attention.
The Ramble Inn changed hands a few more times. It eventually became a restaurant known as “The Ramble II” before it was purchased in 1994 by Michael Busse, a chef looking to establish a restaurant, and his partner Larry Parachini. Busse reflected on the early years.
“Larry had put a deposit down on The Trough,” Busse recalled of another restaurant located just west of Gunnison. “But then he showed me the Ramble II, and I said, ‘This is it. It’s on the Gunnison River, and there’s traffic going to Crested Butte.’ It needed so much work but we decided to take the plunge.”
Busse said he and his wife, Traci, bought out Parachini in 2000.
On Saturday, tables will be cleared and beer will be brought in, to recreate the atmosphere enjoyed so long ago.
“We’ve always wanted to do a Ramble reunion,” Busse said. “This is the perfect opportunity to clear it out and make it what it was — for one night only.”
(Chris Rourke can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.)