These days, Denver International Airport is getting more local restaurants than some Denver neighborhoods, putting DIA on its way to becoming the next hip food district.
The most recent announcement comes from a 2018 James Beard Foundation Award winner, Alex Seidel. By spring 2020, he’ll open an airport outpost of his Union Station behemoth Mercantile Dining & Provision, for which he won the Beard award. The Denver Business Journal was the first to report Seidel’s plans on Thursday.
“We’re trying to break the mold of a typical airport restaurant, really bring something special,” Seidel told The Denver Post on Friday.
He said Mercantile’s three-meal-a-day format transitions perfectly to the airport. At 4,000 square feet, the new restaurant is slightly smaller than the first, but it will still seat more than 100 diners. It’s taking the place of Chef Jimmy’s, and expanding farther into the second level at the center of the A Concourse.
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Seidel and his team will sell croissants and other pastries from their Füdmill bakery. From an open kitchen, they’ll prepare similar breakfast and lunch options as at Union Station, with an abbreviated but elevated menu for dinner.
“You think you have to go into an airport and dumb things down,” Seidel said. But based on the volume of business at Denver’s central train station, he thinks Mercantile is ready for this new challenge.
Seidel opened his first restaurant, Fruition, in Denver in 2007. Two years later, he started a farm and creamery in Larkspur, and, in 2015, he opened Mercantile, sourcing menu items from the farm and feeding the masses for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Then, in 2018, he pivoted, opening a fast-casual chicken shop, Chook, on South Pearl Street. Last year he also won Best Chef Southwest at the James Beard Awards for his restaurant at Union Station.
He always pictured just running small, neighborhood spots, but things have changed, and now Seidel and his team are going for a bigger impact.
“What better way to share (what we do) than in something that really represents Denver and certainly touches travelers from all over the world?” he said.