When something unearths itself from the east coast, immerses itself in the sandy jungles of Cozumel, then hikes north landing itself in the foothills of Colorado Springs, acclimate. By way of restaurateurs Jason and Kris Wallenta, a set of restaurants are calling our home theirs. While they’ve plugged their personal lives into this city of ours, these brothers also have unpacked and served a few different menus that burst with flavor, buildings that embody ambiance, glasses that hold strong drinks, and positively the best time, every time.
Maybe it's a tale of a meandering trail—getting to what it is that they are doing—and aren’t we the lucky ones? It’s a collection of knowledge they gained while working in their Uncle’s restaurant in Cozumel when very young and discovering the food space. Transitioning into the work of opening their first concept, Kondesa, including daily fresh catches, tons of seafood and steak. Repeating it… opening another… and then bringing an abridged version to Denver that's more fitting for landlocked Colorado with detail second to none. Then south to Colorado Springs, and a pivot back to Castle Rock. These gift-givers are leaving people drooling and wanting more universally.
Hands-on restauranteurs have a connection with the work of food in a very unique way. It’s in the preparation, the hospitality, the giving of a meal that makes a one-time visitor evolve into a regular; it’s tied somewhere into the crux of them. Operating a restaurant is not traditionally the easiest money-making, glam career that produces fame or wealth. It’s a path chosen by the resilient and brave. And when done well, we the consumers end up with tacos, a marg and guac we want to order every time. Or a bowl of tortilla soup while sitting cozied up on a patio around a fireplace or a beautiful view of our girl, Pikes Peak— on repeat.
This task of curating a whole space, a menu, and a kind staff is not for the faint of heart or by happenstance. Dos Santos embodies a decade-plus of homework, practice, and application and it’s really showing itself.
If you’re still not drooling? Let me walk you into a building that used to host the trickiest parking lot downtown; now refurbished as the perfect patio brunch spot. White Pie hosts effortless design, vibey music, and— the crusts! The corner seat at the bar is my personal favorite. The bartenders are life-giving, offering both kindness and libation…
The house puff had me publicly licking my fingers this week, the crudite is a delight, and that roasted cauliflower? Full stop. The Mootz, the Porky Porkorino, Spicy G; these are your new best friends. The kitchen is exposed into the dining room… the details.
Coming this spring is a spin-off of Dos Santos called Dos Dos. Two pizza trucks will be driving around town, as well as serving private events. Another concept is coming that they are holding close to the chest until further into the process.
With Jason and Kris’ heartbeats tied into each moment of each restaurant, it’s adding value to our lives by elevating our expectations, our experiences, our lifestyles. Don’t walk, run.