Burger baron branches out

Column by Penny Parker

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Smashburger founder Tom Ryan, the man who also brought you Tom's Urban 24, a 24-hour diner style restaurant on Larimer Square, just opened another fast-casual eatery, Live Basil Pizza, at 6305 E. Hampden Ave. in Denver, on May 23.

The new chain plans to open more outlets. The process is similar to Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill, where customers go through a line choosing what ingredients they want on their thin-crust pizzas before the dough goes in an oven that can cook a pizza in 150 seconds, according to an Associated Press report.

“Co-founder Ryan says he thinks fresh, fast pizzas made before a customer's eyes is where the market is heading,” according to the story. “A handful of shops, including 800 Degrees in Los Angeles, has similar concepts. Plans for such a chain were announced previously under the name Honest Pizza.”

Honestly? I just want my pizza delivered to my house hot and in under an hour.

On another pizza note, Pizzeria Locale from the Frasca folks will open at Sixth and Broadway (also known as the impossible place to park safely) next week.

Dog-gone good eatin' at DIA

Steve's Snappin' Dogs, the popular spot at 3525 E. Colfax Ave., has formed a joint venture with LS Travel Retail North America and Doc 1 Solutions to open a restaurant in Denver International Airport, Concourse B.

The airport space will be 1,390 square feet where owner and founder Steve Ballas and his wife, Linda, will serve a litter of their famous hot dogs along with sides such as the scrumptious deep-fried green beans.

Voted “Best Hot Dogs in Denver” for six years in a row and 11th on the list of “Best Hot Dog Across America,” Steve's Snappin' Dogs has been catering to Denver residents and visitors for seven years in its Colfax location. Its restaurant is one of the most authentic and welcoming in the area, and its menu has a unique “homemade” feel. It includes hot dogs, burgers, and sides such as French fries, onion rings, potato tots and chili con carne.

Steve's Snappin' Dogs is a supporter of local organizations, such as Project Angel Heart, which serves meals to people with life-threatening conditions.

“This is a dream come true for my wife and I … we're walking on air in the Mile High City! We're super excited to be part of this and look forward to working with our partners and the airport team to introduce the world to the city's best hot dogs,” Ballas said.

A dine-in restaurant, the DIA Steve's Snappin' Dogs also will feature take-out options for travelers in a rush, including “Steve's On The Go”: a grab-and-go counter offering ready-made hot dogs, breakfast sandwiches and wraps. Partnering with the Colorado native Bull & Bush Pub and Brewery — winner of a Gold Award at the World Beer Cup, the world's largest beer competition — the location also will feature a large bar offering beer, bottled and on tap.

“We are pleased to have Steve's Snappin' Dogs, and for the first time, LS travel retail, join our team,” said John Ackerman, chief commercial officer at Denver International Airport. “Steve's is a popular local brand that will enhance the overall offerings at DIA, and help diversify our concessions.”

With this new award, LS travel retail North America, which is already operating restaurants in Aspen and Vail airports, is further increasing its footprint in Colorado, and in the food business.

Set to open in winter 2014, the restaurant is expected to generate about $2.8 million in annual sales throughout the term of the seven-year contract.

With more than 50 million passengers traveling through the airport each year, DIA is one of the busiest airline hubs in the world's largest aviation market. DIA is the fifth busiest airport in the United States and the 11th-busiest in the world.

LS travel retail operates a network of local, national and international news and gifts, specialty retail, food and beverage and duty-free brands in more than 20 countries, including 245 locations in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.

Celebrate the Wild West

Get your cowboy on this summer at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden.

Wild West Day is coming to the museum on June 22 (9 a.m.-5 p.m.) and a family-friendly adventure. Ride behind a 1880s steam locomotive in vintage passenger cars and experience firsthand what it was like to travel in the Old West. Outlaws, lawmen, ladies and gentlemen from Monarch Productions will bring the Wild West back to life with their famed, fast-draw contests, train robberies and sharpshooting exhibitions. Train rides depart every 30 minutes between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The museum is located at 17155 W. 44th Avenue in Golden. For more information, go online to coloradorailroadmuseum.org, click on “events” and then “special events.”

Union Station secures eateries

Larimer Associates and their partners announced the first three major restaurant tenants for the rebirth of Union Station, under major construction on Wynkoop Street in Lower Downtown.

The three newcomers will be The Kitchen Next Door (a sibling of The Kitchen at 1530 16th St. and the original in Boulder), Snooze (brace yourself for the line for this popular breakfast spot with locations in Denver, The Streets at Southglenn and Fort Collins) and a new concept from master chef Alex Siedel, owner of Fruition.

All three locally owned restaurants will open in the revitalized train terminal in July 2014 with each featuring a large patio for outdoor dining.

“This is an exciting first step in establishing Union Station as Denver's next great dining destination for both locals and visitors,” said Jeff Hermanson, chief executive officer of Larimer Associates. “These award-winning restaurants represent the true Colorado experience and embody downtown Denver's genuine collaborative spirit.”

Before selecting the restaurants that Larimer Associates would lease at Union Station, they held a series of focus groups to help determine the public's preference for the landmark property.

“We consistently heard that Union Station is an iconic Colorado building with a rich history and that everyone wanted to see Colorado-based businesses in there,” said Pat McHenry, leasing and acquisition partner at Larimer Associates. “This really resonated with us and was a great guide as we sought the hippest concepts and most talented chefs to anchor Union Stations. Luckily for us, these restaurateurs are excited about being a part of Union Station as we are.”

Scheduled to open in July 2014, Denver's new Union Station also will feature several other locally owned dining and retail establishments as well as a 112-room luxury boutique hotel managed by Sage Hospitality. For more information, go to www.unionstationindenver.com.

Sand in the City, Arvada style

Arvada is hosting Colorado's first Sand in the City event June 14-15. Local businesses, community members, master sculptors and architects will form a dozen teams that will create sculptures made from more than 60 tons of sand. The completed sculptures can be viewed from 4 to 8 p.m. June 14 and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 15 outside the Arvada Center for Performing Arts at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd. The Arvada Chamber of Commerce partnered with several event sponsors including Integrated Snow Removal, State Farm Insurance and Arvada Rent Alls.

Visitors to the free event also can enjoy live music by local bands including Branded Bandits, Burnt Lips and The Duke Street Kings. Amusement rides, food, refreshments and a gigantic sandbox are also part of the festival.

“We're thrilled to host Colorado's first Sand in the City event and put the city of Arvada on the map as a great place to work, live and play,” said Arvada Chamber President Dot Wright. “The event connects Arvada's community members with Arvada businesses, who together drive the economic and social success of our city.”

Trip down memory lane … in Arvada

Earlier this month, Mr. On The Town and I took a trip down memory lane … at least for my hubby, who lived in Arvada for seven-plus years.

A lot has changed since 1998!

The Friday night adventure in Olde Town Arvada began at Arvada Beer Company. Housed in a historic building that was built in 1916, Arvada Beer has an extensive beer list that changes seasonally. Warning: No alcohol or wine is served here, but this is a mecca for beer lovers.

Around the corner, at 5707 Olde Wadsworth Blvd., we moved on to Arvada Tavern. Like much of Olde Town Arvada, the Tavern is steeped in history. The Arvada Tavern was issued the first tavern's license by the town of Arvada in 1933. While keeping much of the exterior and decorating the interior with photos of Arvada's past, the Tavern has added modern touches in decor and its menu.

Our group of seven, including five Arvada residents (two former Denver Post colleagues, their wives and a neighbor), enjoyed dinner and drinks in a delightful, quiet area in the back of the eatery. We noshed on ribs, wings, Bavarian pretzels, green chile and entrees, including the Colorado spiced trout and steak melt.

Olde Town Arvada is hopping on the weekends, we're told, and we cannot wait to go back. And don't forget the RTD Fastracks Gold Line is scheduled to run right through Olde Town in 2016.

Overheard

Eavesdropping on Facebook about an indignant elderly woman as the lights come up in Littleton for intermission of Town Hall Arts Center's production of the classic musical “Hair”: “I thought this was `HairSPRAY!'”

Penny Parker's “Mile High Life” column gives insights into the best events, restaurants, businesses, parties and people throughout the metro area. Parker also writes for Blacktie-Colorado.com. You can subscribe and read her columns (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) at www.pennyparker.blacktie-colorado.com. Send her Mile High Life column tips and eavesdroppings at parkerp1953@gmail.com or at 303-619-5209.

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