Squeaky Bean honors the dearly departed with shrines -- and cocktails

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Johnny Ballen

Leave it to Johnny Ballen, the eccentric (and innovative) owner of the Squeaky Bean, to honor the lives of those that have passed with more than just a obligatory R.I.P.

It all started years ago at the former Squeaky Bean with Farrah Fawcett (who died of anal cancer) -- and whose death was markedly overshadowed by Michael Jackson (who died of a drug overdose). Ballen, who had already given Fawcett -- leggy in that famous swimming suit poster -- a prominent place on the wall, insisted that the poster wasn't enough, and so he immortalized the actress by giving her a permanent shrine on a shelf. Ballen left Jackson's death, on other hand, to play out in the media. "Michael Jackson rained on poor Farrah's parade," deadpans an unapologetic Ballen.

See also:
- Actor Bill Murray and Squeaky Bean owner Johnny Ballen...meet
- Squeaky Bean introduces a happy hour, with an earlier opening, punch...and shmears
- Squeaky Bean could write the book on innovative handling

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Can you down a Juicy Lucy burger in less than 39 seconds? Vesper Lounge issues a challenge

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Frank Bonanno

Frank Bonanno still spends most of his time in the kitchen, cooking, hanging out with his chefs and, when the moods strikes, engaging them in battle -- in this case, a burger battle. Yesterday, Bonanno, who owns Mizuna, Bones, Luca d'Italia, Osteria Marco, Lou's Food Bar, Bonanno Brothers Pizzeria, Wednesday's Pie, Russell's Smokehouse, Green Russell and Vesper Lounge, corralled several of the chefs from Vesper, Mizuna, Luca and Bones into the Vesper kitchen -- and challenged them to eat a Juicy Lucy burger, a two-patty bomb encased with melted cheese that allegedly originated at Matt's Bar in Minneapolis.

See also:
- Exclusive first look: Frank Bonanno's Vesper Lounge opens tonight
- Denver's ten best burgers
- Hey, glutton: Can you tackle Denver's beastiest food challenges?

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Booze bandits break into Central Bistro & Bar

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Central Bistro & Bar, 1691 Central Street, was broken into earlier this morning, but all the assailants were interested in, apparently, was alcohol.

See also:
- Denver's ten best new restaurants of 2012
- Reader: Lance Barto's departure from Central Bistro & Bar is "shameful"
- Hot damn! Central Bistro & Bar redefines what a neighborhood restaurant can be


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The Punch Bowl gets in on the Harlem Shake

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The Harlem Shake -- an online dance phenomenon in which friends create goofy routines to the beat of a dubstep song -- has taken over YouTube. And the crew at Punch Bowl - Social Food & Drink have decided to get in on the game with a dance of their own, choreographed in front of the restaurant's bowling alley. Keep reading for the very funny video.

See also:
- Colorado does the Harlem Shake: The ten best local Harlem Shake videos on YouTube
- Harlem Shake: Everything to know about YouTube's viral successor to "Gangnam Style"
- Photos: Opening night at Punch Bowl - Social Food & Drink


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Photos: Ten epic Super Bowl meat stadiums

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Flickr
If you're one of those optimistic types who think that you can haul a bucket of Kentucky fried chicken to a Super Bowl shindig and generate a touchdown for your meager efforts, you might want to rethink your place on the playing field, because the people who created the ten epic Super Bowl stadiums on the following pages have your ass kicked from here to New Orleans.

These football fanatics have a fetish for pizzazz, a clear competitive edge, a serious obsession with the art of overkill and a manly enthusiasm for meat. These aren't sissy stadiums, people: They're strewn with stacked sandwiches the size of a linebacker's thigh; they pimp corn dogs, cigars of prosciutto and pigs in a blanket; pepperoni and salami sticks are piled high to the sky. Truth be told, there's enough pork in these stadiums to resurrect...Hamlet.

Behold the Super Bowl of meat-cheese-dip-and-chip stadiums.

See also:
- Five Super Bowl deals you can score on Sunday in Denver
- The 50 Best Super Bowl XLV Party Photos
- Denver Broncos Super Bowl favorites? Don't bet on it yet


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Photos: See Zanzibar Billiards Club before it gets a makeover from Spike TV's Bar Rescue

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Kalen Deremo
Zanzibar on the eve of being renovated.
Festooned with random flags and boasting a food menu that includes such culinary delights as "Poppers," the "T-REX" hoagie and "West Side Story" sandwich (which we're guessing is delivered by a campy, gyrating food-runner), Zanzibar Billiards Club recently decided it was in need of a makeover. Luckily for the struggling establishment, Jon Taffer of Spike TV's Bar Rescue has come in to save the day.

Over the last four days Taffer and his crew have placed Zanzibar under the microscope, forcing it to undergo a brutal evaluation process that will culminate with a complete renovation of the bar's concept and design. Prior to Zanzibar's relaunching party on December 11, Westword stopped by to snap some last photos of the interior that partially contributed to the bar's downfall.

See also:
- Zanzibar Billiards gets ready to break on Larimer
- Five wholly unnecessary wine-bar happy-hour fails
- Breckenridge Ballpark Pub gets a makeover; will add new taps, barrel-aged beers

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Five weirdest food deaths of 2012: Killed by bugs, beans and empanada makers

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We must eat to live -- but sometimes what we eat and drink also kills us. The oddest things can cook our goose. This past year saw many food-assisted expirations and accidents that were peculiar, creepy -- and very, very unappetizing.

Here's our list of the five weirdest food deaths of 2012.

See also:
-Heart attack at the Heart Attack Grill and five ironic food-related deaths
-Burger King death: Hold the pickles, call the coroner
-Killer beef is back as one of the five most demonized foods

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Blue Bear Farm moves plants indoors for the winter with "Adopt-a-Pot"

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Moving the plants indoors for the winter.
When the Colorado Convention Center created an urban farm on the piece of land between the complex and Speer Boulevard, it forgot about one minor detail -- the winter. But when cold weather descended, the fragile plants at Blue Bear Farm had to be relocated -- or die. Enter "Adopt-a-Pot," a program through which local businesses have been adopting the plants and giving them a warm home for the winter.

See also:
- Colorado Convention Center digs in by starting Blue Bear Farm
- The Table grows a community through urban farming and good works
- City Fruit delivers fresh produce through downtown Denver


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Peyton Manning wants a slice of the pie -- Papa John's, that is

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Jerome Bettis, John Schnatter and Peyton Manning celebrate their love of commercial food.
Peyton Manning is now officially a Papa. After making his first appearance in a Papa John's ad for Superbowl XLV in 2011, he inked a deal today to become the owner of 21 Papa John's franchise stores in Denver. Terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed.

See also:
- Video: Ten best Peyton Manning commercials
- Medical marijuana: Papa John's deliver driver calls cops on legal patient over weed

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Freeosks give out free Rice Krispies Treats -- no human interaction required

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J. Wohletz
The Freeosk at Sam's Club.
I thought the Freestyle Coke machines and touch-screen, meal-ordering systems that keep popping up in restaurants were going to be all the unmanned, automated, de-humanizing product-offering and/or dispensing machines out there for a while.

Nope. After finding a "Freeosk" that dispensed Rice Krispies treats at the local Sam's Club, I am now convinced that human-free kiosk machines are what we will rely on to feed, clothe, entertain and possibly bathe us in the future.

See also:
-Milking It: Rice Krispies Treats
-Milking It: Frosted Krispies
-Welcome to the future: Coca-Cola's 100-flavor soda machine incites confusion, awe

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