110 | Small Bar, Big Number

In February 2019, Magazine by Jake LaTendresses

At 110 years old, a small watering hole in Fort Collins is the heart of a long and tightly held community

Your reaction to Fort Collins bar the Town Pump will be immediate. Claustrophobes will back away slowly. If you’re into close quarters and humanity, these are your digs: good beer, fine spirits, and camaraderie. While it has always been this way, the explosive growth in Fort Collins could easily have swallowed a tiny bar like the Pump. Much of its current success is due to owner Jake Latendresse and the culture he promotes for the Pump.

Pump staff is like a family and customers are a part of that. When Jake purchased the Pump, he was well aware of its iconic status and he was primed to maintain that. His integrity is so sharp, he “lives” into a word each year. The year I met him in the mid-1990s, he was about to jet off to Norway with accomplished alpinist Mark Wilford to attempt a significant ice climb. Jake’s word that year?


Committed to the training, committed to the climb, committed to being a better man every day.

Jake’s a facilitator, making things happen, connecting people and ideas. If you were to park it on a Pump barstool solo, Jake or the bartender would introduce you to someone and get you rolling in a conversation. A community institution, the Town Pump has had a loyal following (family!) for 110 years for reasons like this.

As Carbondale grows and new people and businesses join the tribe, I look back on my days at The Pump, a home away from home, full of friends and adventure and connection.

Where is Carbondale headed?

As Fort Collins’ Town Pump celebrates 110 years, I reflect on our own Main Street, contemplating the million moments of our collective sense of community: the magic everyone references when they say “there’s just something about Carbondale.”

Many things make it so, and our friendly businesses – where they greet you by name – are a big part of that. Go invest in community: park your ass at Batch or the Pourhouse, Beerworks or Phat, and thank the owners for their part in holding space for Village. Please enjoy Jake’s thoughts as he reflects on his own community and his role in a “hunerd-ten.” — Editor

110 | Small Bar, Big Number

Written by Jake Latendresse, Proprietor

28 years ago, I walked into a little bar in the subtle yet lively downtown area of Fort Collins, known as Old Town.

When I walked in, the very hospitable bartender asked me what I’d like to drink. I said, “What’s the house special?” She replied, “oh man…you need an Arc Welder.” So I said, “sure.” She proceeded to pour a half and half shot with Bacardi 151 and Wild Turkey 101….and my eyes had the look of two 8 Balls. As she filled the shot glass, exactly to the black line, I quickly ordered a Coors Light to back it.

So I took the shot and the beer and walked over to the corner table in this tiny little 400 sq/ft bar and sat down. As I raised the shot to my face, I smelled the contents of the glass and literally couldn’t stomach it…even in the prime of my party days. So I asked my buddy to borrow his Bic lighter…proceeded to pour the shot on the table, and I lit it with the lighter. When it caught fire, everyone started laughing and it was then I said to myself, “I want to own this place one day.”

Little did I know, 11 years later, I’d not only become the longest running employee of the Town Pump ever, but I’d also become the extremely lucky owner of the oldest bar in Fort Collins and one of the oldest bars in the state of Colorado.

The Town Pump is a pillar in the old town community. It’s not because of me, but because of the previous 9 owners in its 110 year history.

The man that became my first mentor outside of my own father, Dennis Newlun (RIP), taught me how to treat people. He taught me how to look for people that belong, and for people that don’t. He showed me how to sustain the culture in that tiny little business that has a huge heart and it taught me a lot about life. One day, Dennis came to me and asked me if I wanted to buy the Town Pump because he felt like it was time for him to walk away. 2 weeks later, we had a deal. I called my dad to borrow the 20% I needed for a down payment and he hung up on me. Out of anger and fear of losing the opportunity (and the spoiled brat that I was), I made a couple of calls to some friends that believed in me. One guy offered the money in exchange for half the equity. Then I called another good friend who said, “yeah man, I’ve got some stocks I made a little money on and need to liquidate one anyhow.” So he pulled the money out of the Stock Market and wired it to me the next day on a 4 year amortization schedule with no official contract…just a hand shake of trust. Over the next 48 months, I made every payment without fail or tardiness and learned a ton about responsibility and ownership.

That was 18 years ago, and today, one of the best bars on the planet still stands and turns 110 years old. As far as I know, the original tavern license in the City Clerks office shows that the Town Pump Tavern in Fort Collins, Colorado was born on February 26, 1909. ..one hundred and ten years ago today.

In celebration of that, New Belgium Brewing has developed a celebratory brew we have named “ONE TEN” as a way to not only toast the Town Pump’s milestone birthday, but to also raise a glass to the relationship we’ve shared with NBBC since we served the very first Fat Tire ever sold in the United States. We are very proud of both facts and want to thank New Belgium for their friendship and history at the oldest bar in town.

But first and foremost, I want to take this moment to personally thank all the dedicated employees and patrons that have graced their presence in the Town Pump. Without YOU, this would not still exist. Thank you all so much for everything!! CHEERS and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TOWN PUMP!!! Town Pump Bartenders

We will begin the year long birthday celebration this afternoon and will be tapping the first keg of ONE TEN today!! Come on down and have a cold one!!!

Jake Latendresse is a family man, community builder, and lover of the outdoors. He can be reached at Latendresse Media Collective.