Openings and Closings

Cowabunga! Casey Jones Opens May 13, Bringing New York Pizza to Broadway

Molly Martin
Casey Jones opens May 13.
The Handsome Boys crew strikes again. One week after debuting its putt-putt party bar, RiNo Country Club, the fast-growing hospitality group is adding another concept to its collection: Casey Jones opens May 13 at 24 Broadway.

The space most recently was home to an outpost of Chicago deep-dish chain Giordano's, but now it's back in local hands. "The bones of this place were incredibly good — Giordano's was only here for three months," says Handsome Boys owner Josh Schmitz. "Really for us, it was super-simple cosmetic changes. We're ready to give this neighborhood what we think it deserves and wants."

And what Schmitz and his team think the neighborhood deserves is New York pizza served in an adults-only lively bar setting decked out with homages to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — a nostalgic hook for ’90s kids. The bar top is plastered with pages from the comics, TMNT pinball machines are up against the wall, and there's a large mural by @love_pulp with characters from the series, including a particularly buxom April O'Neil and the bar's namesake, hockey-mask-wearing vigilante Casey Jones.
click to enlarge A close-up of the Casey Jones bar top. - MOLLY MARTIN
A close-up of the Casey Jones bar top.
Molly Martin
As at Slashers, Handsome Boys' horror-themed bar on East Colfax, the beverage menu here is concise. There are ten cocktails, including a martini designed to be taken as a shot ($7); April's Spritz, a play on an Aperol spritz ($11); and the Broadway, a blood orange and rosemary-spiked vodka libation ($11). A lineup of $4 house shots come in such flavors as pickle, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Ferrari (an industry favorite made with equal amounts of Fernet and Campari). Wine and beer are available for $7, as are a selection of canned options including Twisted Tea, Coors Light and White Claws (each $4).

While the bar leans into being divey, the pizza is no afterthought. Mat Shumaker, a native New Yorker and longtime chef at Rosenberg's and Famous Original J's, is heading up the kitchen, and he has a passion for pizza. "When I grew up in New York, I ate pizza two different years, 365 days straight. Just because. It wasn't a challenge; no one asked me. I just did it," he recalls. "I really love pizza to death."

Casey Jones is his first chance to head up a pizza menu, and he's got some ground rules: No pineapple is allowed, and this is a BYOR (Bring Your Own Ranch) establishment. He also has some strong feelings about technique. "We do everything by hand, throwing dough. I think that's a dying art for the most part," he says. While he notes that many people opt to use a sheeter because it's faster, "I feel like you get a different crunch from your pizza dough, a different feeling, a different fold and everything when you do it by hand. When you use a sheeter, it kind of destroys the integrity of the dough."
click to enlarge Mat Shumaker has a passion for pizza. - MOLLY MARTIN
Mat Shumaker has a passion for pizza.
Molly Martin
The pizza is available whole (20-inch pies range from $23 to $28) and by the slice: $3 for cheese, $4 for pepperoni and $5 for the chef's special. Sides like garlic knots ($8) and a rotating house pasta ($14) are also on the menu, as are two desserts for $7 each, a Nutella calzone and Num Nums, two housemade doughnuts with a frozen ice cream center.

The space has a downstairs area that will be opening in the coming weeks. "It'll be kind of like a grandma's basement, with thrifted couches, vintage pinball machines, VHS tapes, some old video game consoles," Schmitz says. "We're not trying to be a bar-cade, but we want to have that nostalgic feel."

This is Handsome Boys' first concept in the area, and Schmitz is excited about the location. "This little strip of Broadway is one of the last remaining that feels like Denver," he notes. "There are no chains, it's super unique, it's very diverse. It feels very uniquely Denver. And all of our neighbors are incredible. I think it's going to be a very fun summer here."

Casey Jones is open from 4 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Thursday and 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday through Sunday at 24 Broadway. For more information, find it on Instagram @caseyjonesdenver.