Today marks the 35th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death. The iconic singer spent a great deal of time in the Centennial State and had many adventures. In honor of the King, Backbeat is sharing some of these stories.
See also: - Retired Denver Police Captain Jerry Kennedy on the time Elvis bought him a Lincoln - John Bucci on being the proud owner of the church pew Elvis once sat in at Holy Family - Retired Denver police officer Bob Cantwell on The King's "nurse" making a house call - Bob Kortz on tracking down a black diamond for The King in the middle of the night - Jonny Barber recording Elvis singles at Sun Studio tonight
Elvis's love for peanut butter is a well-documented footnote of pop-music history. He was especially fond of the Fool's Gold Loaf, a peanut butter, jelly and bacon (!) sandwich conceived by Denver restaurateur Nick Andurlakis and his co-workers at the Colorado Mine Company. Apparently it was so tasty, Presley once flew his private jet here from Memphis in the middle of the night just to partake and stock up on the sandwiches.
When he was sixteen or seventeen years old, Nick Andurlakis began working at the Colorado Mine Company, a now-defunct, 400-seat restaurant owned by Cindy and Buck Scott and located in Glendale. The place hosted a who's-who of Hollywood stars, including Clint Eastwood, Goldie Hawn and Davy Jones of the Monkees, among others. If there was any high-end restaurant in the '70s where Elvis might dine, the Colorado Mine Company was it.
Andurlakis describes the Fool's Gold Loaf as something he and his colleagues at the restaurant came up with to add something completely offbeat to the menu. "We had steak and lobster," Andurlakis says, "but we had nothing 'fun' on the menu."
The Fool's Gold Loaf, a protein-packed mass of goo, certainly solved that problem. Despite what Internet rumors might lead you to believe (and there are plenty of Fool's Gold stories out there), Andurlakis insists that the name simply came from the restaurant itself, which had a mining motif. "It kept with the theme," he explains.
One night in 1976, Andurlakis received a phone call. It was Ron Pietrafeso from the Denver Police Department, who was a friend and bodyguard to the King. The officer said he'd be bringing a special guest to the restaurant late -- after midnight -- and asked if Andurlakis would please stay open to serve him. Sure, Andurlakis replied. He'd done it plenty of times before.
Eventually, Andurlakis heard a knock on the back door. It was Pietrafeso, joined by a small army of other cops -- all cops, it appeared, including police captain Jerry Kennedy. Andurlakis was friendly with many Denver officers, yet there was one he could not recall ever seeing before. "Ron wanted to introduce me to someone," Andurlakis recalls. "And I see this man and think, 'Jeez, this looks like Elvis Presley.' And it was Elvis. He was wearing a captain's uniform Jerry Kennedy had made specially for him."
Presley had just finished playing a concert and was really hungry. He asked Andurlakis what he recommended. The restaurateur, being a pretty die-hard Elvis fan, knew the King loved the peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwiches his mama used to make. So he suggested the Fool's Gold Loaf. Presley ordered one for himself and two lobster dinners for the women he had brought along with him.
Thus a legend was born.
Months later, the Fool's Gold Loaf would become even more historically significant, as Elvis had his private jet flown to Denver on a whim specifically to get more of the quirky sandwiches -- ten of them, to be exact. On that occasion, Elvis's plane sat on the runway at Stapleton Airfield while its famous owner lounged around inside on a green sofa. The singer and Andurlakis chatted for about three hours before the jet flew back to Memphis. It was Lisa Marie's third birthday, Elvis told Andurlakis, and he wanted her to have Fool's Gold for her party.
"Three hours passed by, and it seemed like only ten minutes," Andurlakis remembers, still in awe of the experience more than three decades later. As evidence of the impression Elvis left on Andurlakis, he now owns and operates Denver's own shrine to Elvis, Nick's Cafe in Lakewood. Scores of Elvis-related memorabilia line the walls, counters and corners in the tiny restaurant.
And, yes, you can still order the Fool's Gold Loaf sandwich from Andurlakis himself.
Page down for more about the sandwich and to see one of the original Colorado Mine Company menus.
Fool's Gold Loaf, of course, was no ordinary sandwich. It was a ginormous, artery-hardening contraption invented and offered exclusively at the Colorado Mine Company, a long-defunct restaurant in Glendale run by Buck and Cindy Scott that was once a hangout for media types, politicians, cops...and Elvis.
While it might sound positively disgusting, it's actually not much different from what you'd expect -- a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with bacon. The ingredients: two tablespoons of margarine, one loaf of French bread, one pound of bacon, one jar of peanut butter and one jar of grape jelly. Basically, you take the bread, bathe it in butter on all sides, bake it, gut it and then fill the inside with peanut butter and jelly -- and bacon, sans grease, which you absorb by placing it between two paper towels.
Andurlakis, founder of Nick's Cafe, still makes these sandwiches today at Nick's Cafe on 7th and Simms with the original formula, which he helped conceive while working at the Colorado Mine Company and later hand-delivered to Elvis and a contingent of cops and pilots at Stapleton all those years ago.
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