Word of Mouth

Vance Johnson moves from Three Amigos to two restaurants

Vance Johnson, one of the Three Amigos on the Denver Broncos in the late '80s, is about to open his second restaurant on the Western Slope. He already has VJ's Outlaw Ribs in Parachute, the town where he now lives. And soon he'll open Vance's Epicurious in Grand Junction.

Vance's Epicurious will be going into 115 West Grand Avenue, in the former home of a Grand Junction 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 Johnson definitely expects Epicurious to be a hit. He told the Grand Junction Free Press that while the place may have a sports theme, it won't be a sports bar. Instead, it will serve a curious range of dishes, everything from burgers named after every team in the AFC West to East Coast-style pizza, fish tacos and barbecue from his Parachute joint.

This makes Johnson the second-most successful former Bronco restaurateur. The first, of course, is John Elway, who has three namesake restaurants -- the original Elway's Cherry Creek, a second downtown, a third in Vail -- and one going into Denver International Airport.

Former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan may be gone from Denver, but he still has Shanahan's in the Denver Tech Center.

And while Winston Hill's Ribs & Stuff in Centennial has a pro pedigree, Winston Hill never played for the Broncos. He spent his entire career with the New York Jets, except for three final games with the Los Angeles Rams.


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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun

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