- Nicholas Blake
“I’ve been to places where you’ve got $40, $50 ticket items, and it’s coming out of a bag and essentially microwaved,” says co-owner Nicholas Blake, formerly an efficiency consultant in the corporate sector. He also has ties to The Broadmoor through former owner Edward Gaylord — he says that his stepfather was a senior VP for Gaylord Entertainment, now Ryman Hospitality Properties. Growing up, he spent time around the resort.
“I was exposed to a lot of culinary talent from a young age, and also the hospitality business from the back-end,” he says. “It set the standard.”
Blake says he and co-owner Charlie Snow are total pizza geeks, too. Before opening Papa Bear, they went on what Blake describes as a pilgrimage, learning all about the different pizza styles. What they came up with is an East Coast-style dough, known for airy substructure and crunchy exterior, made from imported Italian 00 flour, bulked up with stone-ground flour to allow for Monument’s high altitude. They roll it thicker than is typical on the coast, so the resulting pizza more closely resembles a Chicago- or Detroit-style pie. Further, they’ve got a California-style attitude toward toppings: Everything’s fair game. Their Pueblo pizza, for instance, has Neufchâtel cheese, roasted poblano pepper and roasted corn.
The pizzas are cooked in old-school deck ovens, which takes some time — a friend who’s been suggests customers call and order ahead before coming to the restaurant. But long waits haven’t hurt business too much, Blake says. By his estimate, they sold out all the dough they had in 45 minutes on opening day. They’ve since increased production, but the dough has to ferment overnight, so when it’s gone, it’s gone.
“We do everything the wrong way, probably,” he says. “The fast food movement helped with efficiency and optimization, but we do it the opposite.”