When I was in high school, the Spicy Pickle deli on Broadway in Englewood was one of my most-frequented lunch spots. I favored the top-selling Salsalito Bandido panini’s combination of Boar’s Head Salsalito roasted turkey, pepper Jack cheese, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and chipotle ranch. The Pickle was also a source of local pride, since co-founders Kevin Morrison (whose name you likely know from Tacos Tequila Whiskey and Fish N Beer) and Tony Walker had started the rapidly expanding chain in Denver’s Cap Hill neighborhood in 1999.
You may know how the story goes: Spicy Pickle went public in 2007 and worked its way up to 70 franchise locations around the world, but the business soon went south. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2012; meanwhile, food quality declined—it had stopped using Boar’s Head meats and cheeses in favor of cheaper products—and Morrison had made his exit years prior. All Denver area locations shuttered by 2014, but the Pickle lived on with three remaining outposts in Reno, Nevada, Quatar, and Kuwait.
Now, thanks to Colorado native John Ward, Spicy Pickle has returned to Denver with a shop on Lawrence Street in LoDo. Ward, who worked as an accountant for the company in its post-bankruptcy days, knew that there was still something special to the Pickle. He threw himself into reviving it, even funding the venture himself via investments and loans.
“There were some things that were lost and we’re going to bring that back,” Ward says of the revamped location. The menu is the same, but with a renewed focus on quality: Boar’s Heads products, sliced daily in-house, have returned and the shop is making its own ciabatta bread, cinnamon rolls, sauces, and potato salad. While the grand opening isn’t until Friday, September 22, the new Spicy Pickle is currently in soft opening mode, which means you can mosey on over and get your Salsalito Bandido fix—as well as breakfast sandwiches, cold subs, and salads—whenever you like.
Spicy Pickle Denver is currently open from 6:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
1875 Lawrence St., Ste. 100, 720-550-6616