The restaurant business has not been too friendly to Vance Johnson, one of the legendary Three Amigos who helped get the Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl in 1989. (The other two Amigos were Ricky Nattiel and Mark Jackson.) After some rocky years, Johnson moved to the Western Slope, where in 2007 he opened VJ's Outlaw Ribs in Parachute, where he now lives. But while business is still smokin' at VJ's - or close enough, say employees - a second restaurant that Johnson opened in Grand Junction this summer has already closed.
See also: - Vance Johnson moves from Three Amigo's to two restaurants - Peyton Manning wants a slice of the pie -- Papa John's, that is - Photos: John Elway helps dedicate the new patio at Elway's Downtown
Closed faster than one of those passes John Elway used to throw at the Amigos -- and with just as little advance warning. Vance's Epicurious closed abruptly two weeks ago, with this note posted on the door: "We at Epic regretfully will be closing our doors. We want to thank you for your support and patronidge [sic]. We are being led in another direction. God bless."
Epicurious had taken over a space at 115 West Grand Avenue in Grand Junction, the former home of a Smashburger - the second Smashburger to close in that town. Which could mean that Grand Junction is the only place where Smashburger hasn't been a smash.
But former quarterback and current Broncos exec Elway has certainly scored with his own restaurant ventures. There are now three Elway's eateries: the original in Cherry Creek, a second downtown in the Ritz, and a third that opened exactly a year ago in Vail, with a fourth opening at Denver International Airport next year.
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What other Broncos have gotten into the restaurant game? For a while, the late Lyle Alzado had a restaurant in Cherry Creek, just a short pass from where Elway's is today; former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan may be gone from Denver, but he still has Shanahan's in the Denver Tech Center. And now, of course, Peyton Manning has signed on to bring 21 Papa John's outlets to Denver; the quarterback has been pitching the pizza since his first appearance in a Papa John's ad for Superbowl XLV in 2011.