Pizza shop owners toss in the dough
Taylor family ready to retire; looking for new owners to take reins at Dinty Moore's
When Clare and Charlie Taylor bought Dinty Moore’s Pizza in 1996, they added Taylor Made to the name, but tried to keep the recipes and the atmosphere more or less the same.
For instance, following original proprietor Donald “Dinty” Moore’s tradition of teasing diners, Charlie Taylor would stand behind the counter making pizza and holler at anyone who came in.
“What, you’re back in here again? What, did your stove break down?” Charlie said were some of his favorite lines to call out as Clare helped people find a place to sit.
“I did that — yelled at customers, ‘What, can’t you cook better than me?'” Charlie said.
Now, Clare and Charlie have decided the demanding work the restaurant requires is too much, and they have put the restaurant up for lease or sale.
“We just have realized that we’re too old to work this,” Charlie said. “We’re ready for some new blood, some new young kids in here.”
They are happy to hand Taylor Made Dinty Moore’s Pizza over to anyone who wants two large retail lots and parking in Oak Creek, but would especially like to find someone who wants to continue the pizza tradition. All of the cooking equipment and Dinty’s pizza recipes come with the lease or sale of the restaurant.
Passing that knowledge along to someone who wants it, they agreed, is what they owe to the town.
“When I was just eating here, I used to think, ‘Man, this is some of the best pizza I’ve had,'” Charlie said, referring to years before buying the restaurant when he lived in Routt County. It’s a simple recipe, but there is a uniqueness to it.”
New owners, if they want, could also continue the Labor Day tradition of giving a free pizza to any skydiver who lands on one of the restaurant’s pizza pans.
Dinty Moore opened his pizza parlor in Oak Creek in 1973 behind the old Colorado Bar, and featured a unique pizza recipe from a long-time friend who ran a boarding house in his home state, New Jersey.
When the Colorado Bar blew up in 1982, Moore moved the restaurant across the street and built a larger restaurant.
The name “Dinty Moore’s” came from a 1913 comic strip featuring a newly rich Irish laborer who lived the high life but escaped to Dinty Moore’s corner tavern for drinks, cards and friends.
Clare and Charlie have added their own touch to the restaurant’s fare, with specialties such as the “Oak Greek” pizza, which featured Kalamata olives, feta, basil, garlic, olive oil and Roma tomatoes. They also started offering Mexican food and a weekend brunch.
The restaurant always drew a large local crowd, making it easy for Clare — who had been living in Denver before she married Charlie in 1995 — to get to know everyone in town.
Tourists also were frequent diners at the pizza parlor. Some would buy a half cooked and then frozen pizza to cook days later when they returned home.
It’s a tough time to move on to other things, Clare and Charlie said, as this summer is shaping up to be a big one in Oak Creek with various events and concerts already planned, and growth expected for the town.
But after taking last winter off, they realized it was time to move on from the restaurant, which has been closed since. Simultaneously, other opportunities — none of which are related to the restaurant business — have opened up.
Clare and Charlie are moving back to Golden, were they both grew up and were good friends in high school. Both lived separate lives until the early 1990s, when they met up at a neighborhood reunion and their relationship sparked up.
They are renting their house in Oak Creek — not selling it — and plan to keep up their connections to the town.
“You think you’re going to be 45 years old forever, and (then) the reality of the situation comes,” Charlie said.
If the Taylors find someone who wants to take over the restaurant and continue with pizza, business won’t be hard to rustle up, as residents have been asking all winter when the pizza would come back to town.
“They can expect to be damn busy when they open,” Charlie said.
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