Reader: Spicy Pickle started out strong, but lost its bite

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When the first Spicy Pickle opened at 988 Lincoln Street in 1999, it quickly drew faithful fans with its hearty sandwiches -- always accompanied by a homemade pickle. That early rush fueled lots of dreams, dreams of the kind of success that other homegrown chains, most notably Chipotle, which started in an East Evans storefront in 1992, had enjoyed. So the partners who'd started the Pickle brought in new personnel and new investors to push an expansion that ultimately moved into nine states, with almost two dozen franchised stores. But that all came crashing down when the company defaulted on almost $5 million in loans on February 2, then closed six of the seven company-owned stores on February 6.

Yesterday the assets of the company were auctioned off, and Cibus Holdings, the largest creditor, wound up the holding the Pickle. No matter what happens next -- and Cibus will likely take over running the chain, Penny Parker reports in the Denver Post, it's a sad end to a promising start.

Says Mantonat:

The only thing that mattered to me is that Spicy Pickle used to have the best sandwiches in Denver and they became mediocre almost overnight. A shame for sandwich lovers as well as for all the employees who are out jobs.

Yesterday Laura Shunk served up some of the lessons that would-be entrepreneurs could learn from the ">Colorado-based chains -- good and bad. But Kevin Morrison, one of the Spicy Pickle's founders who left in 2009 when he didn't like the way the company was heading, put it best: "When you have people who aren't businesspeople or restaurant people trying to run a restaurant company, the writing's on the wall."

Can the Spicy Pickle be saved?



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3 comments
Fletcher Davis
Fletcher Davis

I think you are confusing the Spicy Pickle with Pressto, which certainly dominated the pressed sandwich game in the early 2000's.

Mantonat
Mantonat

When you say "you," do you mean Patricia Calhoun, who wrote this blog entry? Or Laura Shunk, who wrote the original post? Or maybe Penny Parker? Or me? I'm pretty sure we're all capable of reading a sign outside a restaurant before we order a sandwich there. Maybe it's you who either didn't live in Denver in 1999 or never ate at the Spicy Pickle before they went corporate in the mid-2000s.

Fletcher Davis
Fletcher Davis

I guess I meant you, Mantonat. And I did live here back then. I agree they had a fine sandwich for sure in the good ol' days, and I agree that they went downhill quickly. I'm just of the opinion that Pressto sandwiches were better. I think we, as devout sandwich lovers, should be sad not to have either of those options (late 90'ies, early 2000's Spicy Pickle and Pressto) around anymore. Where do you go to get your pressed sandwich fix these days?

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