Tired DIA travelers were doing double-takes as they boarded the escalator heading down out of Concourse B last night, their eyes drawn to the right by the bright sign on a new restaurant -- and then riveted by the sight of who was standing under that sign: John Elway. "There is not a name more closely identified with Colorado's sense of place than John Elway," Mayor Michael Hancock said as he congratulated the former quarterback on the opening of his latest restaurant, one that could give visitors passing through the fifth busiest airport in the country a real taste of the state.
Elway is "almost as universal as the Golden Arches," Hancock added. The mayor joined Elway, airport director Kim Day and Denver International Airport Concessionaires Association David Mosteller, the licensee with partner Dennis Deslongchamp in the Elway's project, in a brief ceremony dedicating the swank restaurant, which was punctuated by boarding announcements from loudspeakers just outside the restaurant.
"I swore I'd never get in the restaurant business," Elway remembered. Today, of course, he has four restaurants: the original Elway's in Cherry Creek, Elway's at the Ritz in downtown Denver, an Elway's in Vail and now an Elway's at DIA, which will officially open June 10. (That means that Hancock can grab a chicken-fried steak burrito to take on United's inaugural Dreamliner trip direct from DIA to Tokyo that day)
Hancock and Elway have shared many microphones and stages lately -- but decades ago, they also shared a shower, as the mayor told the crowd last night. When he was seventeen, Hancock played Huddles, a now-defunct Broncos mascot, and was paid $25 a pop for the job. (Despite their sharing a shower, last fall Elway told ESPN's Rick Reilly that he didn't remember Hancock from those days.)
The Elway's at DIA will serve "uniquely Colorado" cuisine for breakfast, dinner and lunch; it will be open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. The restaurant is part of a push to bring more homegrown businesses out to the airport; Udi's has already opened an outpost there, and Root Down will be opening one later this year. For more on Elway's at DIA, watch our Cafe Society blog later today.