This month, Jack in the Box returns to Colorado with a new store in Golden, followed by locations in Arvada, Parker and Aurora. That's big news, and not just for people who love greasy tacos and burgers on sourdough bread. The San Diego-based fast-food chain was fairly well represented here until May 1996, when it closed its ten Colorado outposts, saying they weren't making money. It didn't mention the public-relations disaster and financial fallout of a now-infamous E. coli outbreak two years earlier, which sickened 600 burger-munching customers and led to the deaths of four children in Washington State.
Old news? Maybe. But Jack Box, the fictional company CEO with the oversized ball for a head, owes Colorado the truth. After all, according to his MySpace page, Box was "born" on a cattle ranch in Colorado and only later moved to Southern California to start his business. Given that, you'd think he would want to be as up front as possible with the people in his home state.
And he was, answering a series of tough questions relayed via e-mail by company spokeswoman Kathleen Anthony:
Jack in the Box
Do you have any favorite memories of growing up in Colorado?
When I was five, I got to ride on a red tractor. That was fun.
Does Jack in the Box returning to Colorado have any special significance to you because you were born and raised here?
Of course. How could I not feel something special? I'm really looking forward to bulldozing my old gym teacher's house and building a restaurant on top of it.
Will you have any public-relations hurdles to overcome because of the way Jack in the Box abruptly left the state in 1996?
Well, that sort of depends on you, right? I'm anticipating a success in Colorado because people keep e-mailing me that they want Jack in the Box to return here. The previous operators in Denver were franchisees, and when they decided to shut down, I was busy expanding in the Southwest. Now I'm ready to come back to Denver.
Do you still have family here, and if so, how often do you visit?
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Oh, sure. Mom, Dad, a handful of aunts and uncles, a bunch of cousins, nephews and nieces. There's definitely a Box family resemblance. We like to ski and ride locally, sometimes Telluride, but we all wear helmets, so we're hard to spot.
Scene and herd: Waiting outside Dixons on Sunday, an Off Limits operative spied John Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox, also waiting for a table. With the waifish Henry was a woman half his age — at most — who did a double take through her Dolce & Gabbanas when she spied the Westword rack at the entrance. She stopped, picked up the October 25 issue and, incredulous, mouthed the word "Masshole" — then rejoined her party to share the brilliance of Kenny Be's Massachusetts installment of Delegating Denver.... The invasion of Massholes for the World Series made for tense times both on and off the field. At the fourth game, another Off Limits operative seated in the club level witnessed an unfortunate clash between three teenage girls festooned in Rockies gear and a beached whale of a man seated directly behind them. The girls felt — rightly — that when there were two outs in the top of the seventh inning, standing was perfectly reasonable baseball etiquette. The beached whale not so much, as he made sure to let them know. This led to some ugly exchanges between the orca and one of the girls' fathers, and soon several other men with inadequacies joined in, taking sides and shouting. In the midst of the melee, play resumed on the field and our operative spotted a familiar fan in the seats directly below. "Look," he said, pointing at John Hickenlooper. "There's the mayor right there, and he's standing, so I think it's okay."
And with that, the matter was settled.