'The Fort' has a deliciously homey feel

On Wednesday, 9NEWS is featuring The Fort in Morrison, a home-turned-restaurant in the 1960s. 9NEWS at 8 a.m. 3/2/2016.

DENVER - Denver Restaurant Week ends Sunday. If you haven't been yet, there are more than 235 restaurants to try through Sunday. Most places offer a three-course meal for about $30 a person.

9NEWS could wax poetic about the food all day, but sharing history can be just as fun.

On Feb. 26, 9NEWS featured Ophelia's Electric Soapbox, a restaurant and music venue in downtown Denver which used to be a brothel and an adult bookstore: http://on9news.tv/1LhUmE4.

On Wednesday, 9NEWS is featuring The Fort in Morrison, a home-turned-restaurant in the 1960s.

"You feel like you're walking back in time," Holly Arnold Kinney, proprietress of The Fort, said.

Many people might know The Fort as a restaurant, but Arnold Kinney calls it home. Her parents, Sam and Elizabeth Arnold, built The Fort in 1961 as a replica of Bent's Old Fort in southeastern Colorado. Building a replica was her mother's idea.

"She said, 'Oh, why don't you build me a castle like this, don't just build me a home, an adobe castle,' and my father said 'why not?'" Arnold Kinney said.

Their home started to look like the original fort that was built in 1833, 80,000 hand-crafted adobe bricks later.

"We had workers from New Mexico, from Taos, and they mixed the mud with straw and [laid] them in forms and baked them in the sun," Arnold Kinney said. Bent's Old Fort was built for the fur trade along the Santa Fe Trail. Her parents wanted to bring the same feel to the Front Range.

“They designed it originally to be our home and a living history museum to teach the public about Bent’s Fort,” Arnold Kinney said. “Construction got so expensive they decided to turn it into a restaurant in the lower level, and we lived in the upper level upstairs.”

The restaurant is now in its 53rd year. They boast about their buffalo entrees they've been serving since the 1960s. 

"Today, we sell over 70,000 entrees of buffalo a year," Arnold Kinney said.

From buffalo filet to buffalo tongue, liver and bone marrow, they have it all.

“You eat a taste of history when you take buffalo bone marrow in your mouth and try it,” Arnold Kinney said. “You imagine what your ancestor had.”

The Fort is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the names of their gusts are historic too. They've welcomed President George W. Bush, Julia Child, President Bill Clinton and the list goes on. They've made it an international destination. 

"We're truly Colorado, and we love that western hospitality, and we hope you'll become part of our fort family," Arnold Kinney said. 

Arnold Kinney partnered with her father in 1999 to keep the legacy of The Fort going. The family is so connected to the place, Holly's mother, father, brother and their pet bear are all buried on the property at The Fort. Pet Bear? Yes. The bear's name was Sissy.

Sissy was a Canadian Black Bear. Sam Arnold, Holly's father, adopted the bear in 1963 when the bear was about 4 months old. Sissy was abused before she came to The Fort. Her claws had been removed by her original owners. The Denver Zoo eventually rescued her but realized she couldn't defend herself because she didn't have any claws. That's when she joined the Arnold family. They raised her like they would any household animal. Sissy lived at The Fort for 19 years until she died in the 1980s from heart failure.

You can read more about Sissy's adventure at The Fort here: http://thefort.com/sissy-bear-at-the-fort/.

The Fort's is just one of the many options during Denver Restaurant Week, however. To make reservations at a restaurant that intrigues you, visit: http://www.denver.org/denver-restaurant-week/.

Insider tips:

  • If reservations are full, try sitting at the bar where they still offer the Restaurant Week menu.
  • Go really early or really late, and there's usually a chance you can snap a table 

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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