There was no brawl, no last-minute demands, no squealing and no bloodshed. Instead, at 5 p.m. on Sunday at Euclid Hall, two monkey-masked men jumped out of a van, raced up the stairs and delivered a pig -- a pig for ransom that had been stolen in broad daylight just over a week ago at Union Station, the site of EatDenver's The Big Eat, in which numerous restaurants, including Euclid Hall, were present.
So, too, was the Squeaky Bean -- the primary suspects in the pig heist. And just about everyone, including Jorel Pierce, Euclid Hall's executive chef, expected Squeaky Bean owner Johnny Ballen, and Sean Kenyon, the Bean's bartender, to show up at Euclid Hall with the pilfered pig. They expected them to be wearing tutus, too, since that was one of the counter-demands by the Euclidians, who had been coerced by the Sowbionese Liberation Army -- the group claiming responsibility for the pig heist -- into meeting very specific stipulations for the safe return of the pig: The SLA insisted upon five fine whiskeys, five orders of bone marrow, five British imperial beers, a rubber ducky on the table and Pierce parading around in a tutu.
But that's not what happened.
Ballen and Kenyon sauntered in just before the 5 p.m. deadline, wearing regular street clothes, smirks of denial and, incredulously, they had no pig! A good fifteen minutes later, without warning, the two monkey faces showed up, pig in hands, and once they were de-masked, their identities were revealed: Paul Reilly, executive chef/owner of Encore and Ben Parsons, owner of the Infinite Monkey Theorem, seemed to be the swine bandits.
As it turns out, they were just co-conspirators in the operation, and, as the Euclidians had rightly predicted, Ballen and Kenyon were, indeed, behind the heist, roping in Reilly, who bestowed upon the SLA two plates of gnocchi from Encore and Parsons, who gifted the thugs with two bottles of Cab Franc, to provide cover. "Paul and Ben joined the SLA when they agreed to give us the wine and the gnocchi," says Ballen. "In return for their good deed, we told them that they'd be getting whiskey, bone marrow and beer, so they joined right away."
Euclid Hall's pig was returned unscathed, although there was a photograph tacked to the pig of the recently departed Jeff Conoway, who Ballen claims was the real leader of the SLA. "He was our leader, and we now have a shrine dedicated to him at the Squeaky Bean," reveals Ballen, who also admits that he feared Euclid's pig was suffering from stockyard syndrome and that its Sunday return was never in question. But the best part, according to Ballen, was seeing Pierce doing pliés in pink. "I can't believe we got Jorel to wear a tutu. That was pretty cool."
By the way, once Pierce had pinpointed Ballen and Kenyon as the SLA culprits, he retaliated by brazenly walking into the Bean and running off with "Teal," one of its pig mascots, which is now safely back on the Bean's shelf. "We all work out butts off, and we tease each other like family. It's fun to be goofy," says Ballen.
We were there on Sunday to capture the memories, the photos of which are on the following pages.
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