Those who follow restaurant news around town may remember the fracas in the East Washington Park neighborhood in the summer of 2011, when Giles Flanagin and Jeff Smokevitch tried to open a branch of Telluride pie joint, Brown Dog Pizza, at 1001 South Gaylord Street. A handful of neighbors who didn't buy into what Brown Dog was selling — namely, wood-fired pizza and a full bar serving beer, wine and liquor — rallied against the two and managed to convince the Denver Department of Excise & Licenses to deny a license. Brown Dog never opened on Old South Gaylord (the corner location is now Homegrown Tap & Dough, after a brief stint as an Il Vicino) and Flanagin and Smokevitch took some time to regroup while Smokevitch concentrated on the Telluride eatery. But now the two are back, and this time they're taking aim at West Highland with a new vision called Blue Pan Pizza, which will specialize in the deep-dish, rectangular pizzas typical of the Detroit style.
The business partners have been scouting a Denver location for months and were close to signing a lease in January, but when Basil Doc's closed at 3920 West 32nd Avenue, they seized the opportunity to make it Blue Pan's new home. Flanagin and Smokevitch have also applied for a hotel and restaurant liquor license, with a hearing scheduled for March 23.
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Dan Schacter, spokesman for the West Highland Neighborhood Association, says that Flanagin and Smokevitch approached the association before they applied for a liquor license with the city. "That was great," says Schacter. "And they agreed to everything in our Good Neighbor Agreement — most importantly, closing no later than midnight." The neighborhood group will be speaking in favor of Blue Pan at the upcoming hearing, he adds.
So it looks like Blue Pan won't run into the same issues the partners had in Washington Park — which is good news for fans of unique, regional pizza styles from around the country.