Grand Junction Colorado Bids Farewell as Notorious Orchard Mesa Bar is Demolished
Did you ever visit Grand Junction, Colorado's rowdy little bar on the corner of 27 Road and Highway 50 in Orchard Mesa? Here's hoping you did, since it's being demolished as we speak.
Take a moment to remember a fun little honky tonk where you could listen to live bands four nights a week in Grand Junction.
Quite The Place Back In the 80s and 90s in Grand Junction Colorado
Back in the 80s and 90s, if you were looking for great music and a wild time, you would visit the Branding Iron Lounge in the Landmark Building on the southeast corner of 27 Road and Highway 50. You could find it downstairs at a small multi-unit complex.
Let's not mince words - the place could be a bit rough. Then again, it was a ton of fun. The bar featured a singular pool table, as I recall one, maybe two dartboards, and a small stage.
Live Music Four Nights a Week in Grand Junction Colroado
In the northeast corner of the bar, you would find a small stage with a drum riser. Looking back, I believe it was carpeted in red shag. The stage lights were made out of coffee cans.
I began visiting the Branding Iron in 1991. Back then one could go there to hear bands such as:
- Ralph N' Clyde
- The Junction Allstars
- Howard Self and the Country Capers
- Rumor Hazzit
- Mountain Home Band
- Shot Gun
In the late 80s, you can expect to run into area musicians like Clyde Jorgensen, Ted Dussor, Greg Achord, Mark Shortess, Rob West, Dave Lock, Garry Tullio, and others.
Grand Junction musician and former Junction Allstars member Mark Shortess helped to produce a song about the Branding Iron:
'The Branding Iron' was another collaborative effort between Ronnie Reed and the Allstars. This is a live recording of the Allstars doing 'The Branding Iron' song. Ronnie and the Allstars started hanging out at Hot Rod Recording Studio together tweaking, and recording his tunes. Ronnee was a gifted songwriter and we enjoyed working with him. Rob West on saxophone, Steve Moser on Drums, Greg Achord on Guitar and Mark S on Bass and Vocals. - Mark Shortess
Before The Branding Iron in Grand Junction Colorado
Social media is blowing up with people sharing fond memories of this building. Of course, the Landmark Building housed businesses other than the Branding Iron. I seem to recall a tax service occupying the front suite, and an odds-and-ends store on the west side.
If you go back a little more, the building used to be home to the Ranch House Restaurant. According to their Daily Sentinel ad, they specialized "...in Colorado beef steaks and Colorado fried chicken."
What's Happening Next At The Location in Grand Junction Colorado?
For the last few years the Landmark Building has sat abandoned. It hasn't grown any prettier with time.
Back in September 2018, I shared a post with information regarding future plans for the site. At that time, I spoke to a City of Grand Junction representative about an application that had been submitted requesting the demolition of this multi-unit building. In its place, a new 7,225 square foot store was to be built. According to the information I was given at the time, the applicant was O'Reilly Auto Parts.
Farewell to Grand Junction's Landmark Building
I'm going to miss this place. I attended my first Jam Night at the Branding Iron back in April 1991. Two years later a group I played in landed a house gig there, playing Thursday through Sunday nights. During that time I met my ex-girlfriend there.
While not a particularly huge bar, it did offer Western Colorado bands a place to play. Sadly, as of today, it's a pile of rubble.