Talking Shop

Spinelli's Market turns ten

"Park Hill Loves Spinelli's Market. Thank you Jerry and Mary Ellen...from your customers, neighbors and friends," reads a sign on the wall near the front of Spinelli's Market, 4621 East 23rd Avenue. Dozens of hand-written notes adorn the poster -- messy scribbles thanking the Spinellis for their invaluable community grocery. "We love you so much," one message says. "You are our family." From the beginning, the market has enjoyed neighborhood support. Moving into a lackluster strip ten years ago, Jerry and Mary Ellen Spinelli struggled to transform a space previously used by shoddy convenience stores into a grocery offering fresh meats, cheese and produce. "There were times when we couldn't afford to properly stock the shelves, but people saw what we were trying to do," Jerry remembers. "There was one guy who put fliers on every car within a four-block radius of Spinelli's, telling people to come here. It was incredible." Business began to pick up, and within five years the market became the neighborhood staple that the couple had envisioned, like the shops at 22nd and Kearney that Mary Ellen used to frequent growing up in Park Hill.

Through it all, a sense of community has driven the store. The Spinellis know the names of just about every mother, father, child and dog that comes through the door. They are the first to hear about birthdays, graduations and weddings. Approach is the key. While Mary Ellen asks you about your day, Jerry recommends the best cheese for your dinner party and helps carry your groceries to the car. "We share in people's lives," Mary Ellen says, watching a customer drop change into a Stedman Elementary Playground Fund jar on the counter.

Though the sense of community is infectious, it's Spinelli's wide selection that keeps people coming back. Jerry is quick to point out that Spinelli's is not a gourmet store but a market, though it's hard not to notice the superior quality of the products, from fresh Colorado produce to prize-winning deli sandwiches. "We offer everything from pork and beans to prosciutto," Jerry explains. And the Spinelli-owned Adagio Bakery across the street has your sweet tooth covered, with everything from birthday cakes to lattes.

Spinelli's is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Stop in and join the family. -- Adam Cayton-Holland

Good Work!
Honoring the boys who helped Red Rocks rock
MON, 9/6

Mother Nature did most of the work to create Red Rocks Amphitheatre, the greatest outdoor stage this side of Greece. But she did have some human help. In 1927, George Cranmer, then the manager of Denver Parks, convinced the city to buy the magnificent rock formation and the area around it for $54,133; he later enlisted the federally sponsored Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Project Administration to provide labor and materials to turn the spot into an actual amphitheatre. Although local architect Burnham Hoyt delivered the design in 1936, the project took twelve years to complete. Some of the men who did the heavy lifting back when they were boys will be honored at 10 a.m. today, when the "CCC Boy" statue is dedicated at a free ceremony at Red Rocks. This isn't the only CCC Boy statue in the country -- others are placed at Depression-era projects around the country -- and there was certainly more than one CCC boy on this job. In fact, thousands worked on the Red Rocks project, and at least two are expected to make it to the Labor Day memorial.

This isn't the last happening of the season for Red Rocks, though. Events are booked through October 2, and after that, Ship Rock Grill will continue serving lunch every day, as well as Sunday brunch; the Visitors Center and Trading Post will be open daily. All that's on top of an "excellent" summer for Red Rocks, says marketing director Erik Dyce, who will attend the dedication ceremony alongside Mayor John Hickenlooper and other notables. "We are not only thrilled, but ecstatic. It's absolutely contrary to the rest of the nation's concert market -- and it's attributed 100 percent to the cachet of Red Rocks."

Thank the CCC boys. -- Patricia Calhoun

What a Taste
FRI, 9/3

In reality, a big bite of Colorado would probably taste something like a sweaty hiking sock and some sunscreen. But that's not the flavor A Taste of Colorado is touting. The annual fair's essence is much more tempting. Now in its twentieth year, the food-fest -- which turns Civic Center Park, Colfax Avenue and Broadway, into an all-you-can-afford buffet -- could more accurately be named "A Taste of Colorado's Restaurants." With an abundance of treats from local eateries, this year's Taste offers plenty of opportunities for sampling: More than fifty restaurants, ranging from India's Restaurant to Mustard's Last Stand, will set up booths for hungry gobblers. Those who've stuffed themselves with edibles can work it off by filling their saddlebags with crafts from 280 vendors and boogying along to entertainment on six stages, including the boys of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy doing their best to make this big-ska country. And for thirsty attendees, there will be plenty of Coors to swill and spill.

The four-day festival starts today at 11 a.m.; admission is free. Call 303-295-6330 or visit www.atasteofcolorado.com. -- Caitlin Smith

Mazed and Confused
The Denver Botanic Gardens serves up corn
FRI, 9/3

The Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield wishes its visitors would get lost -- in its Corn Maze, that is. The fifth annual "agri-tainment" adventure opens this afternoon, with sculpted stalks and preened pathways shaped into a sprawling five-acre Zimbabwean Chapungu eagle. The maze mirrors the exhibit at the original Gardens that features over eighty hand-carved Chapungu stone sculptures. "We have the number-one corn maze in the U.S.," claims Chatfield manager Adam Lucas, referring to the 50,000 trekkers who traversed the crop puzzle last year. "This is one of our toughest mazes yet." Escapes average about 45 minutes, but losing your way is rewarded with fun. "The first thing people want is a map to the maze," says Lucas, "but that would be like giving all the answers to a crossword puzzle." A-maize-ing!

Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield is at 8500 Deer Creek Canyon Road in Littleton. The Corn Maze is open through October 31 on Fridays from 4 to 10 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sundays from noon to 8 p.m. and on Labor Day from noon to 8 p.m. Tickets are $8, with discounts for members, children and seniors. Call 303-973-1694 or visit www.botanicgardens.org for more information. -- Kity Ironton

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