Fire guts landmark Denver restaurant Pig 'N Whistle

Eddie Bohn's Pig 'N Whistle restaurant and motel on West Colfax Avenue in Denver was gutted by fire about 2 a.m. Thursday.

The landmark, operated for more than 65 years by boxing mogul Bohn, had been boarded up for years.

Fire Department spokesman Phil Champagne said that when firefighters arrived, flames were shooting out the east side of the structure, at 4801 W. Colfax Ave. Firefighters had to tear down the boards to force entry.

According to area residents, homeless people had been living in the structure, Champagne said.

Bohn was a close friend of Colorado boxer Jack Dempsey, the "Manassa Mauler." He opened the Pig 'N Whistle on June 24, 1924, on Dempsey's birthday, and it quickly became a hangout for athletes, including former New York Yankee Billy Martin.

Punch Bohn, Eddie's son, said his dad was a sparring partner of Dempsey's for three years in California.

He said his dad saved $10,000 from sparring with Dempsey and bought the property, where he built the restaurant and a motel.

"They were like brothers," Punch Bohn said of his dad and Dempsey.

Hundreds of celebrities came to the restaurant, as well as hundreds of loyal Denverites who returned to the diner decade after decade, Punch Bohn said.

He said among his dad's closest friends who stayed at the motel and restaurant were premier boxers of the period, including Sugar Ray Robinson, Gene Fullmer and Carmen Basilio.

Later, the Pig was used as a location in the Clint Eastwood movie "Every Which Way But Loose." The restaurant closed in 1991, and Bohn died the next year.

Robert "Bob" Slattery, a retired engineer for the city of Denver, was one of Eddie Bohn's close friends.

Slattery, 90, said that Bohn and Bohn's wife, Janet, would feed people who were down and out.

"Eddie used to joke that 'We make it (food) fast, and my wife gives it away,' " Slattery said.

Slattery said among the people who would drop in were Western TV star Roy Rogers and big-band leader Tommy Dorsey.

And when Bohn celebrated his 65th year in business, members of the Coors family came to the diner and poured beer during the party, Slattery said.


For more history click on the links below

Pig N Whistle in 1924        Boxer Carmen Basilio  

1960 scene at the Pig        Dempsey at the Pig

Fire guts landmark Denver restaurant Pig 'N Whistle

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