The après scene at Aspen Highlands is getting a makeover as the owners of Highlands Pizza Co. take on the slopeside-corner space previously occupied by Out of Bounds.
Highlands Alehouse won’t look like the last few establishments at the location, which has gone through four operators in the last seven years. The bar, which was previously situated along a bottleneck, has been moved into the main dinning room. A new wall cuts off what used to be the back portion of the space, which is now smaller.
“We’ve gutted the space and are rebuilding from scratch,” said co-owner Bill Johnson. “When people come in they won’t recognize it. ... The space will feel a little more functional.”
Johnson and business partner Kevin Joseph brought the pizza oven over from the previous Highlands Pizza Co. space, located along the Highlands Village plaza.
“We are taking Highlands Pizza, changing the name and building a similar concept,” Johnson said, adding that the Alehouse will have a full menu. Breakfast and dinner service are under consideration as well.
The old location will be converted into a deli or lunch counter with seating but no bar, Johnson said.
The pizza company and bar has done business in at Highlands — where limited foot traffic and a short season can make it tough to do business — since late 2007. The new location’s success is relying on the reputation and local customer base Highlands Pizza Co. has built up over the years — “consistent pricing and keeping it down to earth,” Johnson said.
Highlands is scheduled to open on Dec., 14, a week from Saturday. The space is still a work in progress, but Johnson said that as long as permitting goes smoothly, they should be ready to go on opening day.
The timeline on the conversion and reopening of the old space is more up in the air, but Johnson said it should be shortly after the mountain opens.
“Everything we’ve built a Highlands Pizza, we are rolling over into the new location,” he said.
Also at Highlands, Aspen Expeditions has moved from its old location toward the end of the plaza to a corner space next door to Joshua and Co. and the Alehouse. Dick Jackson, owner of the backcountry guide and outfitter service, said the new location will see better foot traffic.
“We want to grow our business,” Jackson said. There are a number of ways to do that — “one of which is getting more exposure,” he said.