Front Range

Lift Off

February 21 2013, 12:51 PM

In the four years since its opening, Root Down has built a reputation as a hipster-cool restaurant at which tables are booked weeks in advance and brunch is an all-day affair if you include the wait. Housed in a converted 1950s-era gas station in trendy LoHi, and based on a menu of locally sourced ingredients and progressive cocktails, the eatery is a product of its environment—or, as owner Justin Cucci puts it, Root Down is “contextual.” For his next act, the restaurateur (who also owns the wildly popular Linger) is attempting to fit the successful concept into an altogether different context: Denver International Airport. The second Root Down is tentatively scheduled to open in Concourse C toward the end of this month. “I struggled for a while,” Cucci says. “DIA is basically a strip mall; it’s so anti what my other two spaces are.” But the opportunity was too big to ignore. If Cucci is successful, he’ll have transported Root Down from one of Denver’s hottest ’hoods to the doorstep of a seemingly endless stream of travelers—and, perhaps, created a new business model in the process.