Not the usual for restaurants and bars in downtown Aspen

Not the usual for restaurants and bars in downtown Aspen

Visitors walk by restaurants on Mill Street next to the pedestrian mall in downtown Aspen on Friday, March 4, 2022. During the upcoming offseason, there will be movement between bar and restaurant spaces.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

The restaurant and bar scene on the most prominent corner of downtown Aspen is about to change as several places close and are replaced by newcomers.

The only exception is the Wild Fig, which is moving from its 19-year-old location at 315 E. Hyman Ave. and moved next to what was Nakazawa Aspen and now Ginjoo Ramen and Sushi on the Mill Street pedestrian mall.

Samantha Cordts-Pearce, owner of Wild Fig with her husband, Craig, confirmed last week that they were taking over the Mill Street spot this spring and renovating it before moving the restaurant.

Ryan Chadwick, owner of the pop-up ramen and sushi restaurant, which has occupied the space for six years with other concepts including Gray Lady and Mr. Grey, said it was operating on a six-year lease. months with owner Mark Hunt.

Chadwick’s Aspen Pie Shop next door opened in the summer of 2020 and operates on a month-to-month lease with Hunt.

Chadwick said he doesn’t know when the pie shop, which offers some of the last cheap eats in town, will close, but he’s almost certain as he’s been told another tenant will occupy the space.

“They told me a new tenant had been signed and we had to move out so they could renovate,” he said. “We’re losing those local spots, and it sucks to see that happen.”

Hunt said he couldn’t confirm the new tenant except to say it would be a drinking establishment.

Chadwick said he plans to close the ramen and sushi restaurant next to Aspen Pie Shop on March 19.

He will launch a new sushi business at the Aspen Mountain Residences, formerly the Hyatt, with his partners Marble Distillery, which has a tasting room on the property. Taikun Sushi is set to be opened by The Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, which takes place June 17-19.

Cordts-Pearce said after Gideon Kaufman, owner of the Hyman Avenue building that houses the Wild Fig, sold Hunt, she and Craig lost their lease and decided to continue in the larger space that Chadwick occupied.

“We didn’t want another local restaurant to disappear,” said Samantha Cordts-Pearce.

This will be the third time the Cordts-Pearces have occupied this space – first it was D-19, then Above the Salt.

They’ll also be taking over the Popcorn Wagon for the third time, although it’s not yet clear what the concept will be.

“We haven’t written a menu yet,” she said, adding that it will be later this summer when the Wild Fig will move to its new location.

Meanwhile, under the Wild Fig in the Wheeler Square building, Mary Lynn Casper is shutting down the operations of her family’s four haunts that have existed for 30 years: Su Casa, Aspen Billiards, Cigar Bar and Eric’s Bar.

Known as “Compound,” the last night for the restaurant and bars is April 16, Casper said Friday.

Hunt bought most of the building from Casper for $10.6 million in 2020 and acquired the rest from Kaufman for $7.4 million.

Casper said when Hunt purchased the building his intention was to continue operating the businesses for another four or five years, but was informed by Hunt in November that he was exercising an option on the lease and not renewing it.

“We are very sad. We love our customers and people are pretty sad we’re gone,” Casper said, adding that she had no communication with Hunt.

Casper said the 50 people employed by the companies, many of whom have been there for 25 years, will receive generous bonuses when their jobs disappear next month.

Hunt’s new tenant, Gravity Haus, will take over the building and fill it with several concepts, marketing itself as “a social club that enables a modern active lifestyle – the seamless fusion of work, play and outdoor adventures” .

With locations already in Breckenridge, Winter Park and Vail, the company is also expanding to Truckee, California near Lake Tahoe.

Hunt told the Aspen Times last month that as a landlord he had not evicted any tenants. On the contrary, the owners of the buildings that sold to him chose to do so and subsequently closed their businesses.

“It’s a great local story: (The Caspers) put their blood, sweat and tears into this business,” Hunt said. “If the Caspers wanted to stay, they shouldn’t have sold the building. I would like to sell my house and continue to live there, but I cannot understand this.

Hunt said other businesses in buildings he owns chose to close of their own accord, with the exception of Ryno’s Pub and Pizzeria, which moved into the old Bidwell building for six months and remained there. six years before the structure was demolished to make way for Galerie RH.

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