Day Drinker: Lunches for a Buck, the Must-Wear-Panties Rule, and Sam Elliott at The Recovery Room

Who says you have to wait until the sun goes down to have a good time?

"I'm later than I thought," the tall, white-haired, white-mustached man apologizes to Tana and I as he jumps out of his pickup in the back parking lot of The Recovery Room. It's a little past 10 in the morning. "I'll just unlock the doors and let you ladies right in."

"Whose car is that?" We ask, pointing at a Camaro that's seen better days.

The tall, white-haired, white-mustached man laughs. "Not mine," he says. "That's a leftover from last night."

Inside, The Recovery Room itself appears to still be recovering from St. Patrick's Day. Green beads, clovers, and streamers cover walls, ceilings, and mirrors. It's a welcoming joint: dark, low ceiling, blue-lit pool tables, claw machine in one little nook, Beatles Rock Band in another. Tana and I select our stools and belly up.

The tall, white-haired, white-mustached man appears behind the bar after opening the front door to let the morning light in, and sticks out his hand. He's got a grip and looks at us straight on, a little smile on his face.

"Name's John," he tells us. We introduce ourselves and order up some morning brews.

John's owned the Recovery Room for 26 years ("I named it myself"). Originally from the Netherlands, he moved to Denver when he was 4 and traveled the world working in the airline business. Now, at 62, John's permanent home is in Phoenix, where he and daughter Shannon manage the Recovery Room. John's got an easiness about him that makes you feel you've known him for years. Strong, but with that understanding twinkle in his eyes that says he knows a lot but isn't going to give away the farm. Within seconds, he's the Sam Elliott to our Patrick Swayze, and we're hanging on his every sage-like word.

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Laura Hahnefeld
Contact: Laura Hahnefeld