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Panhandler’s will reopen in Midtown Fort Collins |

Panhandler’s will reopen in Midtown Fort Collins

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The storied pizzeria is vacated its original location in September.
Jacob Laxen

Panhandler’s Pizza will make a comeback in mid-December at 2721 S. College Ave., new owner Louann DeCoursey announced Friday. 

DeCoursey, who was once general manager at Panhandler’s, co-owns Tortilla Marissa’s with her husband, Mike Piotraschke, in Midtown Fort Collins. The two locations are nearly next door.

The site is the former home of Empire Asian Buffet in the plaza housing JoAnn’s Fabric, Dickey’s Barbecue, the Dollar Store and ARC, among others.

 At the heart of the new Panhandler’s will be the same pizzas that made the store a Fort Collins favorite.

“I didn’t buy Panhandler’s to change it,” DeCoursey said. “I plan to keep the same great pizza. I’m not going to mess with what’s already good.”

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DeCoursey has salvaged brick, wood and the fireplace mantel from the original Panhandler’s building in Campus West, 1220 W. Elizabeth St., that closed in September after the building was sold for high-end student housing.  

Panhandler’s owner John Olson sold the trademarks and recipes for the iconic pizzeria to DeCoursey, who plans to keep the same menu for which the restaurant was known.

Steve and Pam Foster opened Panhandler’s in 1975. The original pies, cooked in cast iron skillets, were different than deep dish pizzas made in rectangular pans at Panhandler’s in recent decades. 

Olson bought the store in March 1981 after moving from Wisconsin, where he worked for a regional pizza chain called Rocky Rococo that still operates numerous stores. 

Inspired by the menu at Rocky Rococo, Olson created the thick pastry-style dough that became Panhandler’s trademark.

DeCoursey said she may add some different toppings and play around with different combinations. She’s gotten suggestions for new toppings, including cream cheese. “The biggest thing is there has to be cream cheese,” she said. “Green chilies and cream cheese.” 

At the heart of it, however, will be the same pizza Olson served for decades. “People love Panhandler’s for the pizza,” DeCoursey said. 

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Category: Skillets  Tags: ,  Comments off
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