Steal your pizza face
As Pazzo’s Pizzeria in Avon celebrates its sixth anniversary this weekend, partner Tom Clinton attributes the restaurant’s phenomenal success to three things: great food, loyal customers and a family-like atmosphere."Everybody’s like family," says Clinton. "We try to treat people like they have been coming here for years," whether they have or not. It seems to be an unbeatable combination.Yet as you look around Pazzo’s during lunch hour any typically packed lunch hour you see it’s much more than that.At one table there are area workers on their lunch break; at two other tables men are conducting business meetings; and at other tables there are teenagers, policeman, radio personalities and, yes, families. In fact, Pazzo’s looks a lot like Little America."Pazzo’s is for everybody," Clinton says.And many of those customers are here week after week, even several days a week."It’s like a Cheers’ set in here," Clinton says.It’s because of these loyal customers Pazzo’s Pizzeria in Avon decided to hold an anniversary party on its very first anniversary, and it’s why the tradition has continued ever since."It’s our way of showing our appreciation," Clinton explains.This Sunday, Nov. 10, from 7 p.m. until closing, Pazzo’s in Avon will hold its Sixth Annual Anniversary Party and everyone is welcome. In addition to a rousing happy hour, there will be lots of prizes handed out."We try to take care of locals as much as we can, and in turn we have great local support," Clinton says.Even though its clientele is diverse, the reasons for coming to Pazzo’s are predictably similar. Everybody raves about the food. Pazzo’s pizza is renowned in the Vail Valley. One customer described it as addictive. "If you go for a week without it, you have to come back."One council member wannabe was spotted at Pazzo’s on election night downing pizza with relish."Eating Pazzo’s pizza is how I drown my sorrows," says Bobby Bank, after finding out he lost the Avon Town Council race. "If I would have had more pizza, I would have won," he quips.Pazzo’s special pizza formula is what helped make the original Pazzo’s in Vail wildly successful 12 years ago. At that time, Pazzo’s partners, Clinton, Mike O’Meara and Brian "Hutch" Hutchinson met while partaking in their mutual passion of skiing and snowboarding. Trying to conjure up ideas of how they might continue to ski and snowboard during the day and make money at night, they came up with the idea of opening a pizzeria in Vail Village.Friends from Rome helped the trio come up with the Pazzo’s name, which means, literally, "crazy, lunatic men." The original Vail Pazzo’s opened in 1990 and continues to be a Vail favorite, serving breakfast as well as it famous pizzas, lunch and dinner. The CaboSan Lucas location was opened three years later, and Mark Caldwell joined the partnership as well.The Avon location was actually founded by accident. Clinton had driven to Avon to buy a freezer from the closing Ricardino’s Restaurant in the location in the Benchmark Shopping Center, and instead ended up buying the entire restaurant."It was a decision I made in 10 minutes," says Clinton. And a wise decision it proved to be.While Pazzo’s pizza is what launched the chain and helped keep it popular despite increased competition as the valley grew, the pizzeria is also known for its other scrumptious Italian dishes.Tempting fried calamari, Cajun chicken caesar salads, Philly cheese steak sandwiches, agli-olio spaghetti, pasta dumpling ravioli, baked rigatoni, eggplant parmigiana and spinach manicotti are just a few of its mouthwatering courses. The calzones are universally deemed "excellent," and the meat lasagna is a perennial favorite.Clinton credits his staff, many of whom have been with the restaurant for one, two or more years, with much of the restaurant’s success."I give my employees lots of recognition," he says.Still, one customer did mention there are an awful lot of pretty girls in Pazzo’s around lunch time, and Pazzo’s happy hour, from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., is also a huge success in drawing crowds most evenings.Pazzo’s in Avon is open from 11 p.m. until close, and it also delivers to Avon, Beaver Creek, Eagle-Vail and Wildridge. And the large back room is available for parties, complete with an array of games and there’s no charge."It’s a fun, family atmosphere," Clinton says of the entire restaurant.So what has changed at Pazzo’s in Avon during the past six years? Very little. And that’s the way they like it."We haven’t changed a thing," says Clinton. "We have been doing the same thing since day one. It works for us." He says the four partners are still just as crazy and out to have a good time. "Pazzo’s just wants to continue to have lots of fun with our clientele."