‘Ninja Turtles’-inspired restaurant to replace former Giordano’s space in Denver
Josh Schmitz wants to fill the pie hole that Giordano’s left on Broadway.
The owner of Denver restaurant group Handsome Boys Hospitality plans a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”-inspired bar and restaurant called Casey Jones at 24 N. Broadway, where the Chicago deep dish chain recently closed.
Casey Jones will serve $3 New York-style pizza slices made by chef Mat Shumaker, a New York native and former executive chef for Famous Original J’s Pizza, which is owned by Rosenberg’s founder Josh Pollack.
“We were originally planning on opening this concept in Larimer Square, but when this became available, everything about it screamed Casey Jones,” Schmitz said. “Broadway has room for more than one pizza spot, and we’re excited to have a chef like Mat in our corner and give him a chance to really shine.”
Schmitz was a massive fan of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” growing up and his favorite character is Casey Jones, a human ally of the Ninja Turtles who wears a hockey mask.
He signed a nine-year lease for the 3,200-square-foot space last week and plans to open Casey Jones in May.
“I’m just excited to get our doors open so I can eat a big-ass slice of New York pizza on our patio,” Schmitz said.
Casey Jones will have nods to “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” throughout the space, including a mural by local artist Love Pulp of Casey Jones and his wife April O’Neil fighting off the show’s villains, comic book strips on the bar, and drinks and pizza slices named after characters.
The restaurant’s general manager Chris Wilson, who previously ran Q-House’s front-of-house operations, is creating the cocktail list, which will include frozen cocktails named Bebop and Rocksteady, both villains in the franchise.
“I’ve been playing with the idea of creating a sort of Casey Jones pizza party,” Schmitz said. “Everyone has that memory as kids going to a Pizza Hut or Chuck E. Cheese and squeezing a two-liter bottle into a cup. Now, you can do that with alcohol.”
Schmitz said he trademarked the name Casey Jones. The restaurant is not affiliated in any way with the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” franchise.
Schmitz, 35, launched Handsome Boys Hospitality with business partners Matt Haberman and Brandon Jundt during the pandemic. He has since grown it from five to nearly 120 employees.
The restaurant group’s offices are in Larimer Square, where it also owns Disco Pig (a dance club with a tiki theme), Hidden Gems (a Wizard of Oz-themed ice cream shop) and the Alice in Wonderland-themed Drunken Bakery. The company also operates the Harry Potter-inspired Telephone Pub in Lakewood’s Belmar.
Schmitz plans to open RiNo Country Club, a putt-putt bar with a biergarten, at 3763 Wynkoop St. in the next two weeks.
He’s also planning a dive bar called Larimer Underground in the former Milk & Honey Bar and Kitchen space at 1414 Larimer St., and working with El Chingon Mexican Bistro owner Lorenzo Nunez to launch Eden (formerly slated to be known as Con Safos) at 1416 Market St. in LoDo this summer.
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