Exclusive: Steve's Snappin' Dogs will join the new crop of restaurants opening at DIA
Lori Midson The chili dog from Steve's Snappin' Dogs.
At 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the phone call that Steve Ballas and his wife, Linda, had been waiting eleven months to get, finally came. On the other end of the horn was Keith Montoya, owner of Denver-based Doc 1 Solutions, and the local partner with LS Travel Retail, a multi-billion dollar company that operates specialty retail stores and restaurants in 120 airports worldwide.
Montoya opened the conversation with four words: "We got it, Steve!"
Those words, Steve soon learned, could potentially change his life. Montoya was calling Steve to let him know that a second outpost of his eponymous hot dog hideout, Steve's Snappin' Dogs, would be opening at Denver International Airport, joining of slew of other local restaurants, including Elway's, Root Down and Udi's, all of which are opening on Concourse B within the next year, some as early as spring; Cru, a Wine Bar and two Vino Volos are already open.
"As soon as Keith told me, I screamed, 'Shit, Linda, we got it!' We were bouncing up and down like crazy. I believed it, but I still couldn't believe it," says Steve, who adds that he's still in a daze.
The process began nearly a year ago, when Steve delivered a presentation before Denver City Council's Business, Workforce and Sustainability Committee. He, along with three other local hot dog/sausage vendors, including Biker Jim's, Billy's Hot Dogs and Uber Sausage, was vying for a coveted space at the eighth-busiest restaurant in the world, and the fifth-busiest airport in the country.
"I showed that same passion as I did on the phone to the committee, says Ballas, who admits he was a "nervous wreck" leading up to the presentation. But, he says, once he walked through the door, the jitters subsided, and he was on a roll. "I remember thanking the panel for a potentially life-changing opportunity, telling them that the chance to present to them was a dream come true, and that I'd been hoping for a shot like this for six years," recalls Steve. "I asked them to picture themselves walking to the gate with their family, all of whom are hungry, except that your wife eats healthy, your daughter is a vegan, your son is on a strict gluten-free diet, and you're a meat eater and a french fry fanatic, and I asked them, 'Where are going to go?'" His answer, of course, was Steve's Snappin' Dogs. "You're going to go to Steve's for local flavor and brand recognition because you know that we have something for everyone."
His pitch worked, and by this time next year, Steve will have a second Snappin' Dogs under his bun. "I can't even begin to tell you how ecstatic we are," reiterates Steve, who opened his original brick-and-mortar in 2006 and will celebrate its seventh anniversary on February 20th, where he'll unleash a hidden stash of Twinkies.