Antlers Cafe & Bar
40 Moffat Avenue
Yampa CO, 80483
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The Antlers Cafe & Bar has been a local gathering place on the main street of Yampa for almost 100 years. It was built somewhere between 1904 and 1906 adjacent to the Antlers Hotel. The hotel was built in 1902 or 1903. The Antlers first opened as a saloon, and then became a pool hall during Prohibition. It then reverted to a saloon with back room gambling. Once gambling was outlawed in Colorado, it became a cafe and bar until it closed for business in 1996.
The same family, the Benedicks, owned and operated the Antlers for 60 years. Mike Benedick was a young coal miner from the neighboring town of Oak Creek in the early 1930’s. He ran poker games in Yampa, Craig and Oak Creek. He frequently ran games in his brother-in-law’s (Joe Morris) saloon, the Antlers. Mike tended the Antlers Bar in 1933 and managed it in 1935. Mike and his wife, Emily, bought the saloon from Joe Morris in 1937. It has often been rumored that he won it gambling, a rumor Mike always denied. When Mike bought the saloon, it was one long open room with a tiny kitchen on the west side between the saloon and the back gambling room. There had been a narrow cafe at one time between the saloon and the hotel. It was removed by Joe Morris before he sold the Antlers to the Benedicks. That explains the false front windows that are located on the left side of the building.
The first year Mike and Emily owned the Antlers they lived across the street at the Royal Hotel, which was owned by Mike’s sister. Then Mike expanded the kitchen, partitioned it off from the saloon and back room, and began serving food. Emily did the cooking and Mike tended bar. Mike and Emily moved into the back gambling room the second year. It was three or four years before they had any indoor plumbing. They raised three children and lived there until 1996.
Mike built a tiny liquor store in the front northeast corner of the saloon in 1938, which is still in operation today. Mike Benedick became a legend in his own right and is still remembered for his tough rules. He enforced those rules with a stern voice – sometimes with a twinkle in his eye.