A longtime local chef who cooks for some of the Denver Nuggets is taking on another local big name — Denver International Airport.
Daniel Young, who goes by “Chef D,” is preparing to open Sunset Loop Bar & Grill at the east end of Concourse B next spring.
“I cook extremely clean and healthy for the players, for obvious reasons, and airport travelers are in the same ballpark – wanting to travel on light food, not on a heavy stomach,” Young said.
The restaurant will be owned and operated by New York-based OTG, in a venture with Doc 1 Solutions. OTG specializes in airport restaurants and markets, with 350 locations across 10 airports, but this will be its first at DIA. Doc 1 Solutions, meanwhile, already operates 10 DIA locations, including Steve’s Snappin Dogs and Superfruit Republic.
OTG founder and CEO Rick Blatstein said Sunset Loop, named after a trail in White Ranch Park near Golden, will serve American “farm to terminal” food.
“We are going to lean very heavily on very healthy cuisine,” Blatstein said. “It’s important that we have that and it’s very much Chef D’s forte.”
Young moved to Colorado in the 1980s and has been a chef for over 40 years. He opened his first Denver restaurant, Diced Onion, in Cherry Creek in 1994. In addition to Sunset Loop, Young said he’s opening a French restaurant, Hamba, at 900 Bannock St. this August. Sunset Loop is the first DIA restaurant he’s involved with.
Young isn’t a Nuggets employee, but rather hired by individual players, he said. He said his commitment varies each season, but this season he’s been cooking for six players, whom he declined to name, and expects to travel with the team as they take on the Miami Heat in the franchise’s first-ever NBA finals.
“I’ve been associated with the Denver Nuggets franchise for the past 17 years, privately working with franchise players to rookies, which makes this year an emotional moment for me,” Young said.
Young said he has about six menu items so far decided for Sunset Loop, such as the Rocky Mountain trout salad and a couscous entree. He’s aiming to use locally sourced food and grass-fed meat.
“I’ve had opportunities to delve into different facets of food and I look at the airport as a challenge culinarywise and an opportunity to be creative in different ways,” Young said. “Airline food has had a stigma for not being fresh, and OTG’s philosophy is a refreshing concept.”
Sunset Loop, which will have a full-service bar, will operate in a 7,363-square-foot space where OTG and Doc 1 will also operate a Starbucks. Yearly rent for the space in a new stretch of United gates is $1.42 million, or 15 percent of yearly gross sales until $12.5 million is reached, then 16 percent until $15 million, and finally 17 percent for any sales above $15 million, according to the contract.
Blatstein said he expects to hire more than 100 employees for both the restaurant and Starbucks.