Reader: City attacks local businesses, rather than help them

Two prominent restaurateurs are involved in very public spats with the city. Frank Bonanno, owner of Osteria Marco, among other restaurants, admits he can be a "dick." Especially when fighting the Denver Department of Environmental Health: posting missives on his blog aimed at Danica Lee, the department's food program manager who's inspected several of Bonanno's restaurants, and then expanding on this sentiments with Matt Rodbard, a contributing editor of Food Republic.

And then there's Jesse Morreale, owner of the First Avenue Hotel, home of both Sketch and El Diablo: Early Tuesday morning, the city slapped the building with notices to vacate, saying it was unsafe; both restaurants were closed yesterday.

Says guest:

This is the case with every city department right now, look at what just happened at El Diablo and Sketch, rather than trying to keep local businesses open they attack them.

Is the city attacking local businesses? Or doing its job protecting citizens? Read more about Frank Bonanno versus on the health department here
and Jesse Morreale versus the planning department here.

Location Info

Osteria Marco

1453 Larimer St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

El Diablo - CLOSED

101 Broadway, Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Sketch Food & Wine - CLOSED

11 W. 1st Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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Mntnman 1 Like

 Magic - thank you for taking Westword to task on this. The author did not even attempt to feign impartiality.  El Diablo’s owner has admitted to multiple violations of building codes.  In the face of this, the following sentence is laughable: “I was sitting in Morreale's office on the second floor, which didn't seem to pose any immediate hazard to me.”  Okay, we get it, your publication gets a lot of money from this guy, but geez, can’t you disguise your bias just a little?  You have no qualifications that you have identified to judge the safety of the building, your inspection consisted of eyeballing an office, the person you are meeting with has admitted to multiple building code violations, and yet your take on this is that the building “didn’t seem to pose any immediate hazard to me”??  You are running a publication that purports to be unbiased and to be in the business of providing facts to the public so that we can make informed judgments.  How about trying that out for a change?  Before you come to conclusions, investigate the facts, ask the opinions of people on both sides of the issue, and inform your readers of what you find out.  This doesn’t seem to be an unreasonable request.  There’s a name for it – it’s called journalism.


Hi Drake, I don't think Magic is talking only about the burratta. The burratta is only the tip of the iceburg. This comment is focused on his sausage game. Google the guy, look at his blog, it'll become more clear. The simple point I think Magic is making is don't take chances with people's lives. And really, what benefit is it to the health department for giving Frank a hard time? For that matter, why does Frank have to make it personal with one particular inspector? FWIW, a friend who owns a local restaurant said Danica, when she was inspecting his restaurant was incredibly friendly and, more importantly fair. Don't sacrifice public safety. Don't sacrifice the jobs of the people who work for you when you have to close do to irresponsibility. These kinds of sacrifices for pushing an envelope (that's pretty well figured out already) for your 15 min of fame is petty. Chefs are far from gods. But more importantly, diners are not guinea pigs.


I think Magic missed the point with Frank.  He was not being fined over the preparation of his products, but over the holding temperature.  I do not fear Frank's room temp burratta.

'Magic' Richard S.
'Magic' Richard S. 1 Like

Westword must be joking with these articles. If your aim is to paint these guys into a picture of adolescents bent on "sticking it to the man", then well done. Way to serve the cool-aid of these zealots. Both of which are the biggest hot heads and detractors at any industry meeting with their peers. I know, I'm a peer. It will be obvious to both of them. First off, 101 Broadway, El Diablo, Sketch, etc. is closed due to Jesse Morreale not pulling proper permits for construction work. Combine that less-than-responsible fact with his procurement of city financing and you have a perfect liability storm. The city is not "attacking" the business as your reader states as the city prefers the easier path of collecting sales tax and loan payments. The city is being forced to have him vacate and properly address his construction approach. His city financed project is a strait-forward liability as it wasn't built through public safety channels. If someone is injured or dies due to construction negligence it will be the PUBLIC (through legal process, peoples lives, and settlement) that will ultimately pay. Not the best restaurant plan for a community. This story could have been titled 'the irresponsible and greedy restaurant owner vs. the overly people protective city'. It seems more fitting and balanced, but perhaps it doesn't stir the pot so much? Regardless, enjoy the bite marks Jesse, I'm sure you'll surface fine. And hey, at least you'll have friendly company in the civic building hallways… Frank. You stood on your tippy toes and "admitted" something obvious to those who know you, you're a dick. Great press fluff, what a fighter that guy. Meh. I'll posit an approach: work with someone who has the proper facilities (by all means do it locally if that's your schtick) to safely cure your product. You know as well as anyone that with this option you can have creative control on the sourcing, preparation and processing of your food items and in a controlled environment, AND with delivery. Hell, you could even package it for grocery stores and restaurants à la your hero, W. Puck. Instead you choose to cure in your basement or garage? Because of love? Sounds real smart. Real meticulous. Glad you shared your agenda. Glad YOU deem it safe. None of this entitles you to covertly sell this homemade product in your shops as we all know you do. Any environment with life (people, pets, young boys), creates all sorts of nefarious microscopic crud no one appreciates in food. Oh, your home facility is super clean you say? Let's get all transparent and open it up to Danica, I'd prefer her trained third-party opinion on that subject over yours, she's more objective and accountable to the public she serves. Her job is to keep people from death's door; yours is to make a name and a buck. If you'd doubt her objectivity, open up to ANY third party public health entity that is directly accountable to the public they protect. Or be a good businessman and open your own state-of-the-art properly run and accountable facility and serve your product as you always do: sausage first. BTW, Frank, the city doesn't need your $250 fine payouts. Get over yourself. Stop WASTING PUBLIC MONEY and time with your moronic publicity stunts. In the mean Westword, why don't you be a good dick and write a story on Frank's impending food born illness CIVIL lawsuits. That could be informative press. Ultimately, responsible restaurants DO NOT EVEN CONSIDER putting in harm's way the people they serve. Spend your dining dollars wisely. Guests are smarter than this crap, and must be tired of seeing these guys get Westword's attention for sheer idiocy. Please focus on the restaurants that are trying to be a positive participant in our community helping continue the positive growth of Denver. Don't feed the negligent ego's pocket book.

food poisoning
food poisoning

 Is the moral of Magic that you should get meats from Marcyzks or Mondo Vecchio?  LOL!

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