(photo by Helen H. Richardson | The Denver Post)
BAR: LA CUEVA
La Cueva, 9742 E. Colfax Ave. in Aurora, serves up home cookin’, if home is Guanajuato, Mexico. It moved into the storefront in 1974 â€” before there was a Latino presence in the area. Nabor and Norma NuĂ±ez opened it, and now it’s run by their son and daughter, Alfonso NuĂ±ez and Molly NuĂ±ez Cohen. The 3,000-square-foot space holds a bar, two dining rooms and a gift shop that was once a cigar parlor. Three firefighter helmets hang on the bar’s wall, souvenirs of Alfonso’s 23 years in the field before taking over the restaurant. People come from all over town for this Mexican food and the friendly staff. “It’s like eating in your house,” says Alfonso.
GRILLED: DR. ROBERT GREER
Dr. Robert Greer, 67, is an accomplished, if somewhat modest, Denver doctor, writer and rancher. He’s a practicing pathologist and professor of medicine at the University of Colorado. He is the author of 13 books, most notably the C.J. Floyd series, which follows the misadventures of a Denver bail bondsman. He also owns and runs a cattle ranch in Wyoming. He was raised in Gary, Ind., by a schoolteacher mom and school principal dad. College wasn’t a choice as much as another step in the right direction. He studied chemistry, zoology and journalism at Miami University in Ohio, went on to get degrees in dentistry, medicine and pathology at Howard and Boston universities. His wife, Phyllis, died of a heart attack in 2002, a loss that still sears his heart. He orders a Bohemia beer.
BH: Let’s start at the ranch.
Greer: I had a ranch in Steamboat for 19 years, but after my wife died I just couldn’t go up there anymore. All I would do is cry. It was too emotional. So I sold it and bought a ranch in Wyoming.
BH: You told me once not to put all your love into one person.
Greer: It’s not exactly that. My wife and I just isolated ourselves from the world, and you shouldn’t do that.
BH: I don’t understand how you can do all the things you do. The medicine, the ranch, the books.
Greer: It’s not that hard if you figure the kind of lifestyle we had. Number one, by choice, we were not interested in having children. We were more interested in our own lives and what we could do together.
BH: It still sounds like a lot. When do you fit the writing in?
Greer: I write at night. I will write for three hours a day, every day. The key is doing it every day. And I write a lot at the ranch. Half of the book up there, half in Denver.
BH: A lot of writers write by the word, a certain number each day.
Greer: No. I do it all by time. If I write three hours a day, I know I’ll have a novel in 10 months.
BH: Hollywood has optioned all your books. I think C.J. Floyd would make a great character in the movies.
Greer: That Hollywood stuff is a mystery to me. My second book, “The Devil’s Red Nickel,” they spent a million dollars trying to get it ready to be a movie. It never happened. It’s just funny money to them.
BH: Is writing a lonely task?
Greer: Not for me. I enjoy it because I am so much alone with myself. It fits my personality.
BH: Decor at La Cueva in Aurora, Colorado.
You’re a loner?Greer: Always have been.
BH: Do you see patients at the hospital?
Greer: Rarely. It’s all research and a diagnostic surgical practice. I am usually looking into a microscope. And I teach some.
BH: Do the three parts of your life complement one another?
Greer: I think they do. The medical thrillers I have written come straight out of my research lab. The ranch just gives me a sense of peace. It’s big and open, and a river runs through it. It’s a working ranch, 4,000 acres with about 300 head. And the ranch comes into the novels. Sometimes C.J. travels to Wyoming and Montana.
BH: Is Denver a good backdrop for C.J.?
Greer: A great backdrop. He works on bail-bondsman row, his girlfriend runs a restaurant in Five Points. Denver still has the ability to allow you to develop unique characters. And it has that Western component.
Interview continued on Denverpost.com.