Archive for October, 2011

Thank You, But We’ll Wait for the Gorillas!

Yes, the “highlight” of Downtown Denver activities for this weekend is purported to be the 6th Annual Zombie Crawl. And, in the spirit of the Wild West, this year they have added a team event, sort of a relay, called the Organ Trail. It all goes on Saturday afternoon, based at Skyline Park at Arapahoe and 16th Street, and if you are so inclined you can visit the website for the event by clicking here. But, come back.

Over 1000 to be Released Next Saturday! Cleaner than Zombies!

We wrote enough about this last year at the Slice, and you can read that here if you wish to re-visit the dead. Suffice it to say, the assorted Zombies will leave a mess of phony blood all over the Mall, on windows and buildings, and they’ll be scary enough to at least enjoy themselves. They will also cause the Mall Shuttles to stop running for some time, late in the afternoon. (Actually, it’s not taking much to stop the Shuttles from running these days. They frequently do it to themselves.)

You should be able to tell the Zombies from the regular Mall visitors. We are just partial to next Saturday’s event…the annual Gorilla Run. Blood is rarely spilled at this event. But  beer usually is! Be careful crossing the streets!

You’re Asking: “Who’s Really Responsible for the Pizzafication of Lower Downtown?”

(Editor’s Note: Denver by the Slice, though you might think so, has never really covered pizza. In whole or in part.)

The Pizza Queen

You, like us, are wondering just what has caused Lower Downtown to be suddenly inundated by pizza places. New places in old spaces are running three-to-one for pizza. Let’s answer the blame question first. This woman. Queen Margherita of Savoy wandered into Naples, Italy one day in 1889 and chose her favorite pie. It bore the colors of the Italian flag…red tomatoes, white mozzarella, and green basil…and the trend was launched. Success in Naples eventually led to a worldwide proliferation of pizza of all types and toppings that has now dropped its overload on Lower Downtown. There are sure to be more slices of pizza per capita here than anywhere west of A’osta!

These 10, count ’em, 10, places are betting the LoDo pie is big enough to share. Yet, this cannot work without re-defining the very image of the Historical District. (See below)

The venerable Wazee Lounge & Supper Club makes very good pizza, and has for decades. 15th and Wazee. Wander in, sit at the bar, order a pint, order a pizza to go, drink the beer. Pizza is ready. Perfect!

Now, just down Wazee in part of the former Dixon’s space, will come Lucky Pie Pizza & Tap House. Beer and pizza. This is a concept from Louisville, Colorado. The last concept from there to come Downtown, we believe, was the dreadful Pulcinella’s. Enough said.

Wander on to Charlie Palmer’s make-over of Big Game and we’ll be served with Wazee Wood-Fired Pizza. Palmer’s famous, of course. They will sell by the slice. We’ll take a look, probably later this year. We bet on this one making it.

A favorite small pizza, and very Italian, is found at Mangiamo Pronto, 17th and Wazee. Try the arugula, prosciutto and apricot syrup pie. Delicious lunch! Then, check out the fabulous Ducati poster in the men’s room.

Believe it or not, we found yet another pizza place going into an historic space. On the corner of 17th and Blake in the St. Elmo Hotel building (a beautiful and too-long-empty restoration) we are promised Toppings. Opening in February, they offer a type of buffet approach to making a pizza. You choose what you want on it. They bake it in two minutes. We predict that this will be much like a trip to BD’s Mongolian, where, no matter what combination of ingredients you put on your plate, by the time it’s cooked, every plate tastes the same. Toppings, though, will also sell hot dogs.

Up the Mall, on the “Block of Chains”, is Mellow Mushroom. It’s part of a chain.

Closer is Two-Fisted Mario’s, a spirited and popular local’s place on Market, near 16th. Nothing wrong with a place that promotes “Pizza, Beer and Rock ‘n Roll!”

Close to LoDo, Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizza on Larimer Street is a prime example of the officially certified and delicious Neapolitan Style of Pizza just like the Queen wanted.

Osteria Marco in Larimer Square offers small hand-tossed pies, just as good as you would expect from Frank Bonanno.

And, lastly, Anthony’s hangs out there towards the Light Rail on 16th and sells the occasional average pizza to someone who doesn’t know they are lurking so close to a much larger world of pizza.

Whew! So much pie. So little time. But, all of these pizza places do run the risk of changing the entire image of LoDo. We may even see an effort from the marketing folks to change the name of the neighborhood. From LoDo…to PizzaDo!

Re-Branding LoDo: Girls in Short Skirts, Music and Plenty of Pie!

(Image: “Long-Playing Pizza-Pie” Little Lotta in Foodland, Harvey Pub, Sparta, IL 1965)

Brent Godfrey Opens at LoDo’s Translations Gallery!

This Friday, October 21, is the opening of a new show, Connections, at Translations Gallery, 1743 Wazee in LoDo. The Opening Reception is free and open to the public, from 6-9 p.m. And, you can meet the artist at a free and public brunch on Saturday, October 22 from 11-2 at the Gallery.

Brent Godfrey, Naivete, acrylic on canvas, 84x52"

From the gallery statement: “Brent Godfrey’s work synthesizes abstraction and representation to explore identity, memory, interpersonal relationships and social structures. Godfrey gets inspiration from his distinctive history and experiences to create an artistic statement that communicates with the intersection of social history, media, culture and intimate life. Godfrey’s show, Connections is an exclusive collection selected and installed by the artist that challenges notions of the individual’s identification and relationship with  global kinship and continuity. This will be the first showing in Denver for this nationally recognized artist whose work will be showing exclusively at Translations Gallery.”

Connections will be shown only until November 26. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday. Come for brunch! This week!

If You Ask, It’s Called “Bob’s Park”!

Oasis in the City!

There are, within the urban environment of Downtown Denver, some very special spaces that give you the opportunity to feel like you are somewhere else. These “pocket parks” are welcome alternatives to streets, parking lots, buildings, cement, bad sculptures and lumbering busses.

This particular park is a gem. And, you may not even know it’s there. If you are walking on Larimer, or 17th, you may not notice it at the top of a stairway. In fact, it’s probably a minor miracle that it exists at all…above a parking garage…in obviously prime real estate. We’re glad it does.

The circular design is encased by a small forest and decorated with flowers all summer. Shade and color and some occasional wildlife…including a rabbit named “Bob”. You can get coffee just inside. You can rest, read or enjoy your lunch. You can be very comfortable here and not really even notice the traffic below. Check it out. This is “Bob’s Park” at 17th and Larimer on the terrace in front of the 17th Street Plaza Building.

And, who is Bob? That’s the affable and congenial concierge for the building, Robert Buterbaugh. A true professional who’s been there for eight years. His personality reaches right out through the door and makes you feel very good about sitting in “his” park!

What’s your favorite oasis in Downtown Denver?

How to Know It’s Really the Middle of October

Well, for one, there is baseball being played somewhere. Just not here. And, football is in the air, at least periodically. Who knows what will happen now that the ball’s been handed to the guy who sells all the shirts?

Great Day for Another Chance!

But, as so often happens in Denver, the weather is just great. 70 degrees and sunny on a Friday afternoon. Many can remember big, wet snowfalls in Septembers of years past. In 1971, there was plenty of snow over Labor Day! In 1985, snow piled up on lawns and trees by the end of September. But, this year, we are doing just fine. And, there’s no reason to go inside anytime soon.

"Water Feature", photo Denver Infill Blog

Meanwhile, construction goes on around the Union Station project. And, we will raise one point. We don’t think the new route out to the “Riverfront Station” (our name suggestion) stop for the light rail works so well. Shuttles run out there, come nearly to a stop (only if they have to), make a right turn, wait for a light and make a left turn into the passenger drop area at the station. But, that road is narrow, and the shuttles are piling up at rush hour like taxis in New York City. They are not operating with the amount of space they had when it was the “Union Station” stop for the train. The drivers are likely to rebel and drive even faster. It’s probably what we will have to live with. Along with future announced and unannounced disruptions to the neighborhood.

For instance, of the actually announced variety, there is this weekend’s closure of Wynkoop Street between 18th and 19th, and 19th between Wazee and Wynkoop. Re-paving. Two full and long days of noise for the neighbors. But, don’t worry, they say you’ll still get to your bachelorette party at Sing Sing!

Former Shuttle Passengers, Now Zombies

But, how to really know it’s the middle of October… at some point you will realize that we are just one week away from the lovely and popular Zombie Crawl along the 16th Street Mall. Where do these people come from? We can always hope for a change in the weather!

And, come back next week to Denver by the Slice. You’ll read about the nicest little green space in the middle of the city…and a rabbit named “Bob”. Be careful crossing the streets!

Talking Points: Jim Merrill Has Come “Home” to Colorado…and Downtown Living!

Frequently, we’ll introduce you to someone you may, or may not know who lives in Downtown Denver. And, we’ll ask that person five questions…always the same. But, we’re sure to get a lot of different answers!  Let us know what you think.

Jim Merrill is a Colorado native, a graduate of Colorado State University and a Managing Director at Castle Pines Capital.  He has enjoyed a 26 year career mostly in the commercial finance business, focused primarily in the technology industry.  An original “Colorado Country Boy” from Eastern Colorado, he also lived in Southern California for several years before returning to live in Downtown Denver in 2005.

What is the best thing about living Downtown?

Jim Merrill: photo, Diane Huntress

You have close proximity to everything and opportunity to socialize with all types of people right outside your front door – residents, tourists, people Downtown for a ballgame or theater, etc.. It’s just a great, active environment……and my favorite restaurant, Venice Ristorante, is only two blocks away!

What has been the biggest change while you have lived Downtown?

The new buildings and businesses that have emerged, and the on-going re-development construction at Union Station, have been the biggest changes.  All very positive, pro-growth, diversity trends in Downtown Denver.

What don’t we have now that we need Downtown?

The common answer is a larger grocery store or urban market; however, a few high quality niche markets do exist Downtown.  I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.  It would also be nice to have more live music/restaurant venues for an older audience – an alternative to the nightclub scene.

What’s your favorite place to go away from Downtown?

In-State, I enjoy going out to Eastern Colorado, my hometown roots, and anywhere to watch my nieces and nephews compete in sporting events. Out-of-State, I enjoy SoCal Beach Cities and New York City.

Tell us something about yourself most people wouldn’t know.

My first job out of college in the mid 80’s, was as a credit analyst at Central Bank of Denver, at 16th & Arapahoe Street. Tabor Center had just been built and Downtown was just beginning to come alive.  It took me 20 years to make it back Downtown, but I always knew where I’d live when I moved back to Denver.

Thanks, Jim. And, by the way, Happy Birthday, big guy!

(See all of our Talking Points profiles at the page called “Talking Points”. Click at the top of the site to meet a bunch of interesting people living in and contributing to Downtown Denver!)

Honor Steven Whitney by Buying His Selections for Your Urban Home

Steven Whitney passed away very suddenly a few days ago. Many Downtown residents knew Steven, and admired his touch in modern design selection for gifts, accessories and furnishings for the contemporary urban space.

Steven Whitney, Neighbor and Shop Owner

His shop started on Wazee between 17th and 18th, then moved into the front section of Crush Salon, 1441 Wazee in LoDo. Now, Steven’s part of the space is hosting a clearance sale to move all of this fine merchandise. Everything is 50% off, and according to the family, once the merchandise is gone, so will go the fixtures for sale as well.

All of the top names of contemporary design for the urban home are here…and starting to move fast. Take a look. Buy something you like. And, enjoy the fact that someone had such good taste to bring this quality…of merchandise and life…to our neighborhood.