Paradise Bakery plaza

Paradise Bakery and its plaza in downtown Aspen, shown here in a 2019 file photo, have been a gathering place for the community for four decades. After receiving word last year that its lease would not be extended, the bakery and its landlord have found a way to keep the business in its current location.

 

No more trouble in Paradise.

After months of searching for a new home and exchanges with its landlords, the beloved Paradise Bakery intends to remain in its iconic corner spot, owner Mark Patterson said Monday.

The opportunity for Paradise to resign its lease arose after its next-door neighbor, high-end Italian retailer Loro Piana, called off plans to expand into the bakery’s current space.

Shortly after local media reported about a year ago that Paradise would lose its lease upon its October 2021 end date, the CEO of Loro Piana’s North America division requested a meeting with Patterson and his brother, Danny, who co-own and run the bakery together.

“I realized at that point in time that it was in the best interest of the town to help keep Paradise Bakery at their historic corner location,” Loro Piana CEO of North America Claudia Cividino wrote via email Monday evening.

News that the Aspen institution was being forced out of its home of nearly 40 years hit the local community hard, with customers flocking to the shop to buy treats and show their support, express a range of emotions, and even drop off floral arrangements. Others posted to social media and penned letters in the local newspapers.

“It was overwhelming,” Mark Patterson said via phone Monday. “There was just such an outpouring [from] those organizations that we’ve donated to over the years and just loyal customers [saying] what we meant to them and what the corner meant. It was a lot.”

Patterson also said in a statement Monday that it was “unfortunate” that some of the rhetoric in response to the news about Paradise “crossed the line to becoming negative and hurtful to our landlord and our neighbors.”

But the heartfelt responses, he said, further motivated him and his brother to find a new space for the business, which they worked on with Aspen developer Mark Hunt. The Pattersons were considering a space on Mill Street — after Hunt remodels it and the neighboring building — until Loro Piana pulled the plug on its plans.

“Loro Piana has a very historic relationship with the town of Aspen and with Paradise Bakery who have been our neighbors for well over a decade,” Cividino said. “We are delighted that all partners were able to come together in the best interest of the town to help keep Paradise Bakery on their special landmark corner.”

Cividino said the company reached this new decision last December and that the COVID-19 pandemic “did not affect the decision not to expand.”

Patterson said his landlords, Aspen lawyer Andy Hecht and his son Nikos, offered him and Danny the option to resign Paradise’s lease in January.

The Hechts, who have owned the building since 2012, and the Pattersons engaged in conversations at that time but paused in March due to the novel coronavirus.

Patterson said that Hunt — a longtime customer of Paradise — was perhaps most helpful both in finding Paradise Bakery a new location as well as in securing the current one.

“I think, somehow, that he was able to influence our landlord to keep us on the corner. They do some dealings together,” Patterson said. “We put a lot of time in with Mark, but he was totally understanding all along that we would prefer staying in the place we were in. So, I think hopefully it’s going to work out good for everybody.”

Patterson later added: “I don’t think any business in town would want to sign a new lease right now.”

Neither Hunt nor a representative for the Hechts could be reached on Monday.

        Next door to Paradise, local boutique P.E. 101 also hopes to remain in its home of 33 years.

“We are excited about the opportunity to continue on, after 30 plus years, in our space,” P.E. 101 founder and owner Joan Teige wrote via text Monday. “We are, as always, grateful for the support of our community.”

        While the Pattersons have not yet resigned the lease — there’s still a year and some months, after all — he said Monday they have every intention of doing so.  

“We are extremely grateful to the Hechts and Mark Hunt for their flexibility and support in this process,” Patterson wrote in his statement Monday. “This was a great example of two property owners working behind the scenes to make things work for a tenant and for the community.”

Patterson concluded: “With the uncertainty regarding the return of summer tourist business, we are moving forward cautiously. It is our hope that the future recovery of the Aspen economy will allow us to realize this opportunity to remain on the Paradise Corner for years to come.”  

Erica Robbie is the editor-in-chief of Local Magazine and Local Weekly as well as the arts & culture editor for the Aspen Daily News. She can be reached at erica@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @ericarobbie.