Beau Jo's Pizza: After forty years, don't go changing....

Categories: Jenn in Chains

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All photos by Jenn Wohletz.
I'm not at all sorry I missed being an adult in the 1970s. There were terrible fashion trends with bell bottom pants and clogs with heels, and worse hairstyles with that feathered look; the porn was all sweaty and hairy, and the food trends were...well, Irma Rombauer's Joy of Cooking came out and fondue was a thing, so maybe the entire decade wasn't all bad.

Colorado's own Beau Jo's Pizza was born in 1973. When I learned that it was celebrating its fortieth anniversary in April, I decided to get a taste of the pies that managed to survive both the Watergate era and Billy Joel's good recording years.

See also:
- Beau Jo's celebrates its fortieth anniversary with $19.73 pies and free pizza for a year
- Beau Jo's Colorado-style pizza includes dairy-free cheese and other veggie options
- Best Pizza -- Colorado Style - 2003: Beau Jo's

The Beau Jo's location at 2710 South Colorado Boulevard certainly channels the '70s-style décor I recall from my childhood -- it looks like a home that was haphazardly decorated with a combination of nostalgic artifacts, prints from a Sears outlet, dark wood tables and chairs, and light, unfinished wood beams and walls. But there are also modern, big-screen televisions in the dining room so that modern families can eat their dinner and effectively ignore each other, so I felt right at home.

Chip Bair opened the first Beau Jo's Pizza in downtown Idaho Springs on April 1, 1973 -- a 570 square-foot store that seated only fifteen. This flagship store became a popular ski hangout, and Beau Jo's soon grew to eight locations, including six owner-operated spots in Arvada, Boulder, Denver, Evergreen, Fort Collins and Idaho Springs, and two franchises in South Dakota. This homegrown chain has plans to expand with two to four more stores a year over the next five years, and a bigger space for the Fort Collins store is in the works. But time seems to have stood still on South Colorado Boulevard.

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My server was so wholesome and perky that he could have been a pop singer. His pizza salesmanship talents were a definite asset to Beau Jo's but were probably being wasted at the same time, since the menu was finite: pizzas, sandwiches, calzones, salads and a smattering of appetizers. And besides, eating anything order than a signature mountain (thick, hand-rolled crust) or prairie (thick, not hand-rolled crust) pie at Beau Jo's is sort of like going to a steakhouse and ordering a salad with no steak: Sure, people do it -- but those people need therapy.

I ordered a Pacific Plantation mountain-style pie ($19.73), an Odell's IPA (22-ounce, $4) and a Dr. Pepper that came in a cute little Mason jar mug. From everything I've heard about the size of the Beau Jo's pizzas, I figured the pie and the free all-you-can-eat salad bar would be more than enough to fill me up. I waded through waves of noisy, semi-attended children (their parental units were in the restaurant, but obviously figured the place had free babysitting with meal purchase) to the small salad bar off to the side, plucked a plastic plate from a stack and, after a good look, I took the plate back to the table, empty, because I didn't want any of that salad but saw no reason to waste a clean plate.


Location Info

Beau Jo's

2710 S. Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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21 comments
eligain
eligain

Good pizza is good bread and this isn't good bread!

GFTW
GFTW

Apropos that Westword's Chief Pie Hole got assigned this story! I was really surprised though that Jenn wasn't fired -- that Sketchy Places of East Colfax was totally up her, um, alley.

Denver Dave
Denver Dave topcommenter

I tried this place several times when they first opened and a time or two over the years but it just has never been my thing - way too much bread/crust - one piece and I'm done.  I prefer a little more finesse in my pie. More is not always better.  Enzo's and Paxti's put this place to shame.

confusedeater
confusedeater

Wait, the salad bar is free?  Can someone confirm this?  I've seen people ask for it when you order and they bring you a plate.  Was that just them misunderstanding and the waiter being nice?

nemopunk15
nemopunk15

The best part of this story and Beau Jo's is the Out Cold reference in the title.

Megan Haenny
Megan Haenny

Only go to Idaho Springs location. It's the best of the best and they won't let you leave unhappy!

Megan Haenny
Megan Haenny

LOVE it. Got to go to the original location though. ALL the other locations mess it up. Idaho Springs all the way!!!

Iris Selawitz
Iris Selawitz

If I get charged by the pound, it's not pizza.

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve topcommenter

My favorite at Beau Jo's is called the Beaughetti.  It's spaghetti with marinara sauce, parmersan cheese and sausage (or meatballs, chicken, ground beef, or a combination) served in a garlic bread bowl.  It's quite a filling meal.  Forget the salad bar.

monopod
monopod

Your take on the salad bar is spot on.  I've done exactly the same thing - go up, survey the iceberg lettuce, shredded carrots and ranch dressing, and go back to my table.  Pizza's OK, nothing too exciting but filling apres ski fare.

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr topcommenter

I'm surprised that I don't get fired every day. It's like in The Princess Bride when the Dread Pirate Roberts tells Wesley every night that he may kill him in the morning. : ) I'm just grateful to be employed someplace where I don't have to take off my clothes, and I'm sure many others are grateful for that as well.

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr topcommenter

@GFTW I like that title--I've been called worse. : )

lucymcfad
lucymcfad

@Denver Dave  DD you are absolutely correct, Enzo's is truly a great pie! I will have to give Paxti's a try. Though I am not big on chains. 

bugsycook
bugsycook

I agree, they need to push the sauce and ingredients closer to the edge so it doesn't end up with so much crust when it is baked. Huge slice and maybe 4 bites are actual toppings and the rest is crust

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr topcommenter

@confusedeater It says so on the website, and my server told me to dive in if I wanted salad. : )

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr topcommenter

@foodcrazy I saw that on the menu--the next time I am literally starving, I might attempt it. : )

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr topcommenter

@monopod Yeah, I didn't wanna pick on 'em too much since the pizza and beer were fantastic, but I would upgrade the salad bar a touch--keep the easy stuff for the kiddos, but maybe add some bougie ingredients as well. : )

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