An affiliate of the Aspen Brewing Co., which recently lost its Restaurant Row taproom when the building changed hands, will open a full-service restaurant and bar on the sunny corner space that has been home to Peach’s cafe for the last eight years.
Duncan Clauss confirmed Wednesday that he has signed a lease with property owners Mike and Lisa Haisfield that ushers in the next chapter for the craft brewery that opened in 2008. The Haisfields, who operated Peach’s, thanked the community for its support over the years and said the time was right to find a new operator for the space at the intersection of Galena Street and Hopkins Avenue.
“It’s obviously a really nice canvas to be starting from,” Clauss said of the Peach’s space.
Prior to coming to terms with Clauss, the Haisfields were contemplating an expansion of Peach’s and had combined the space with what was a next-door hair salon. Peach’s closed in early October for the renovation to proceed.
Changes necessary to make the space suitable for a brewpub are minimal, Clauss said, and involve resurfacing and expanding what was the coffee bar for use as a proper bar, building a beer cooler and making some aesthetic changes. He aims to have the space, which is roughly double the size of the brewery’s former taproom, open by mid December. Brewery taproom staples, such as hosting local musicians and being the jumping off point for the Tuesday Cruiseday group bike rides during summer, will continue in the new space, he said.
Because of state liquor laws preventing an alcohol manufacturer from directly operating a full-service restaurant, the new location will be registered under a separate corporation that has a franchise agreement with Aspen Brewing Co., Clauss said. The new location will be called Aspen Tap, which Clauss said is inspired by local waiters’ habits of asking guests if they are OK with “Aspen tap” when inquiring about water preferences. Besides Aspen Brewing Co. beer, of which there are now over a dozen varieties, the location will feature select liquors and wines. He has brought on Andrew Knudson, formerly of local restaurants Steakhouse No. 316 and Ajax Tavern, to put together a menu he characterized as “good bar food” that will be available for lunch and dinner. He will seek a transfer of the liquor license held by Peach’s.
Clauss said he began discussions with the Haisfields this summer, shortly after learning that the Hillstone Restaurant Group, owners and operators of Aspen’s White House Tavern, had purchased the adjacent building where the brewery has had a taproom since November 2010. The brewery and Over Easy restaurant, which occupied the downstairs of the property known as the Seguin building, were given until Oct. 31 to vacate.
Real estate is always a challenge for a local business, Clauss said, adding that there were few options available other than the Peach’s space that would allow for an expansion into the food service realm. But the space came along at the right time and coincides with an expansion of the brewery’s distribution model, which now reaches seven states, as well as Australia and the United Kingdom. The beer is brewed at the Aspen Business Center.
Since the brewery first opened, with a small production facility and taproom located on North Mill Street, Clauss said the number of breweries in the U.S. has tripled. Stepping into the brewpub business and having a flagship location is part of competing in this landscape, Clauss said.
Clauss, a 33-year-old University of Colorado graduate originally from Connecticut, said he’s “forever grateful” for the community support.
“Even if it was just the rumor mill over the last couple of months, to me that is pretty flattering in terms of a demonstration of community interest and concern.
“I’ve sunk my entire life into this for the last 10 years and I don’t regret a day of it,” he added. “I still feel like we are just getting going.”
For Lisa Haisfield, closing down Peach’s, which she named after her late mother, is bittersweet. She, too, thanked the community for the support and said the family enjoyed operating the business. However, delays in the pace of the remodel and a desire to devote energies to other endeavors led to conversations with the brewery, she said.
“It seemed like the right time and the right fit,” she said. “We like the idea of another local business on one of Aspen’s favorite corners.”
There is no such thing as perfect timing, she said, but it feels “meant to be, the way it all worked out.”