Aspen’s restaurant and bar scene never sleeps. Even as the town shuts down in the dead of offseason, behind closed doors deals are being made, and in the light of day, construction season flourishes.
Here’s a look at some of this summer’s most anticipated additions.
The W Aspen
Replacing the local favorite Sky Hotel, this swanky new spot has some big shoes to fill.
The W Aspen will boast a rooftop patio bar with a pool and jacuzzi, fire pits, cabanas, and views of Aspen Mountain. It also will house a living room area with a built-in DJ booth suspended from the wall.
“Our team is focused on activating W Aspen around our guests’ passion points of design, music, fashion and fuel,” says hotel general manager Greg Durrer. “We will be partnering with local and regional experts in order to bring these experiences to life.”
An homage to the defunct Sky Hotel, the ground floor lounge will be called 39 Degrees. The menu will include craft cocktails and bar bites, while the living room lounge will serve up breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Nestled at the base of Aspen Mountain, the hotel will offer 88 bedrooms and suites and 11 residences.
The Aspen location is the second of the international brand’s mountain resorts; the first opened in Verbier, Switzerland in December 2013.
As of press time, the W Aspen expects to open its doors the third week of July.
Kirby Ice House + Mr. Grey
A Houston establishment that opened in 2016, Kirby Ice House is notable for its beer and cocktail offerings as well as its 1-acre backyard outdoor seating area.
The Texas bar and eatery opened its Aspen branch in early June.
“We want to bring a similar vibe to what we have in Houston,” says Russ Morgan, a development partner in the restaurant. “I think our casual concept appeals to both the locals and out-of-town population that visits Colorado in the summer.”
The Aspen location in the space adjacent to Wagner Park focuses on accessible, family-friendly offerings for lunch and dinner.
The menu includes small bites, salads, burgers, sandwiches — “things we can get out fast and please a majority of the people coming through the door,” says general manager Jeff Staten.
At 9 p.m. each night, the restaurant turns into the Bumble Lounge.
Bumble a dating and networking app, has hosted numerous one-off parties at bars and restaurants around Aspen in recent years, including at Shlomo’s, the Red Onion and Highlands Alehouse. The brand also sponsored last winter’s Powder 8 championships on Aspen Mountain.
Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd met her husband skiing in Aspen in 2013; the two also own a home here.
The Bumble Lounge features a nightly DJ, “activations” for app users, including bar tabs and menu discounts, late-night food service and complementary merchandise.
Morgan hopes the partnership with Bumble will help anchor his restaurant’s late-night offerings, which he says will be an important component of his business plan. He says that the balance between a park-side, family-friendly restaurant and a late-night lounge with food service is in line with what he sees as a need in the local hospitality scene.
Next door to the Kirby Ice House location, restaurateur Ryan Chadwick is revamping his concept that he opened five years ago as Grey Lady.
Mr. Grey features a menu that is slightly upscale from its predecessor, explains Chadwick. “Over the years we transitioned into more of a bar menu, and we want to bring it back to where it started,” he says.
Both the Mr. Grey and the Kirby Ice House spaces are due to be extensively remodeled under plans for which Aspen developer Mark Hunt has already received city council approval. However, the renovation of one of town’s premier corners is not expected to commence until at least spring 2020.
Tatanka + The Ranch Room
East Coast entrepreneurs Alan and Jennifer Giaquinto returned to Aspen to open two restaurants on different levels of the commercial space at 308 E. Hopkins Ave.
The street-level operation, called Tatanka, planned a mid-June opening.
Tatanka is described as a “Western bistro” that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
“Our big thing that we wanted to bring to town was breakfast,” says Giaquinto. “We have a lovely breakfast menu with a lot of options on it. You can be as healthy or as decadent as you want to be.”
The basement operation, which is pointed toward a late November or early December start, is called The Ranch Room. Giaquinto says the concept is still developing, but it will be a dinner spot open three or four days a week.
James Mazzio, a 1999 Food & Wine Best New Chef award winner and former resident of Aspen, will serve as executive chef of both establishments. Giaquinto says Mazzio recently worked in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at Bouche Bistro. His influences there, coupled with the Giaquintos’ travels throughout Mexico, will shape the cuisine at both establishments, she says.
“At Tatanka, you’ll see a bistro with a Mexican-Western flair,” Giaquinto says. “You’ll see some bison pop up, you’ll see some really nice chiles and flavors of Mexico and the Southwest. There will be a little of that cowboy culture like a chicken fried steak for breakfast with cracked-pepper venison gravy. Our fish will come with a Mexican-style rice.”
Acquolina proprietors Luigi Giordani and Gretchen Leary will unveil a new Italian coastal cuisine concept sometime this summer in the former Rustique Bistro space on Monarch Street.
Duemani will be “more elevated and refined” than Acquolina, says Leary, noting, “We don’t want to compete with ourselves, obviously.”
With an emphasis on seafood and some pasta dishes, the atmosphere will be contemporary Mediterranean, with a lighter, brighter color scheme than that of Rustique.
Giordani, a native of Rome, moved to Aspen in the early 1990s, and at one time worked in the same Main Street restaurant space where Acquolina is housed, as a server. Leary has lived in Aspen for 18 years.
Partners in business and in life, the two have been together for 10 years, Leary says. “We’re very excited,” she says of Duemani. “We had been looking for over a year for a new space because we finally had developed our foundation at Acquolina and felt comfortable stepping away a little bit to develop a new venture.”
Duemani is slated to open mid-summer at the earliest and September at the latest.