Chris pointed to a painting of a buxom blonde smiling mid strut on the opposite wall. “That was a cute hairdresser up the street that the owner’s son had a crush on, so he got him to paint her on the wall.” “Him” is Lloyd Kavich—a beatnik artist who would lock himself in the restaurant with paint and bottles of wine to give life to the walls. When Lloyd lacked inspiration, he’d go on the street and ask people if they wanted to pose. The ones that said yes didn’t know they’d be part of a lasting history—one that includes the Great Gatsby, or Hubble, or Robert Redford as most people know him.
The actor worked at The Sink as a janitor when he attended CU under a baseball scholarship. “They say he used to sleep on that bench over there,” Chris said, pointing to a worn, wooden booth, scarred with the passing years. “He came to visit once, confirming the rumors.” That was when The Sink was owned by Herb Kauvar (who had Redford help lug in a refrigerator during his visit). During that time, The Sink transformed from a bar into a deli and then back into bar, all while still serving the famous Sinkburger, known for its Hickory Sauce and “slightly” (Chris is careful to mention) melted American cheese.
It wasn’t until the Heinritz brothers bought The Sink that the restaurant saw its first Ugly Crust Pizza. Today, the kitchen offers locally grown seasonal vegetables, organic local breads and Certified Angus or grass fed meats. It also runs on wind power.
Of all the things that have changed over 90 years, one thing that has stayed the same is the laid back atmosphere void of pretension. Chris is also quick to point out that another constant is the loyal customers.
“Everybody that’s gone to CU since 1933 has some tie to this restaurant,” Chris said.
That means they’ve waited underneath the “Sinkstine Chapel,” they’ve smiled back at the buxom blonde on the wall and been shown to their table through the doorway painted with an angel and Devil, symbolic of entering college a naive freshman and graduating a more worldly, slightly sinister version of that. Or maybe that’s just what happens when you enter and leave The Sink.
Alas, the Devil is in the details. And that’s what The Sink has an abundance of—from the food, to the people, to the history that might actually be more colorful than the walls.