Tue. Sep 26th, 2023


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Rosenberg’s Bagels won’t be opening at DIA, owner says

3 min read

No longer arriving at Denver International Airport: a local bagel shop.

Joshua Pollack, owner of Rosenberg’s Bagels and Delicatessen, said a long-planned location at DIA won’t be opening after all. He blamed the development on an airport concessionaire that would have operated the shop.

“I feel slighted and it hurts my brand,” Pollack said. “We were getting ready, it was public knowledge, and now we have to say we’re not going to open in the airport because our partners screwed us over.”

Pollack opened the first Rosenberg’s in Five Points nearly 10 years ago. It expanded to Aurora’s Stanley Marketplace and also has a kosher bakery.

Pollack said he signed a deal with concessionaire Skyport Hospitality four years ago to open a Rosenberg’s in DIA. But early last week, he said, cease-and-desist papers were signed and the companies agreed to go their separate ways.

A number of local restaurant brands operate at DIA. But Pollack noted that those brands, including his, typically sign a licensing agreement with a concessionaire company like Skyport and don’t actually operate the restaurant themselves.

“Essentially no one owns their own concepts in the airports,” Pollack said. “In Denver there’s a handful (of concessionaires) that operate about 80 percent of what happens at DIA — they’re pretty powerful.”

According to its website, Skyport has 23 concepts in DIA, such as Elway’s, Snooze and Shake Shack. It also operates in Nashville International Airport.

As part of its agreement with Rosenberg’s, Skyport owned the lease with the airport and funded the buildout of the space. Pollack would receive a percentage of sales.

Pollack said he was attracted to Skyport because it already had space secured, so he wouldn’t have to go through a bidding process with the airport. His only requirement was a commissary kitchen and an oven to do onsite baking. He didn’t want to schlep in bagels made elsewhere.

Rosenberg’s retail space in Concourse B was nearly finished, and the shop was gearing to open, when Pollack said Skyport told him “in the eleventh hour” it wouldn’t be able to build a commissary kitchen – a deal breaker for Pollack.

“They wanted us to ship out finished products which I said I wouldn’t do because it degrades my product,” Pollack said. “In a heartbeat they can decide to do it or not do it. They don’t care about your brand.”

Skyport did not respond to multiple requests for comment. A DIA spokesperson said they could not provide any information about plans for the space.

Pollack said he’s had expenses related to the planned DIA location, but that the financial impact is less than having to close a restaurant.

“It seems like some of the cut-throat business dealings you would hear of in big cities, so it’s not super surprising, but it’s like a gut punch,” Pollack said.

He said he thinks there should be a certification process so small business owners can operate on their own in an airport, instead of having to rely on concessionaire companies.

Pollack said he’s not giving up hope on Rosenberg’s moving to DIA, but wants to partner with a smaller company.

In addition to bagels, Pollack’s restaurant group Bridge & Tunnel owns Lou’s Italian Specialties and Famous Original J’s Pizza.

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