The restaurant scene in Snowmass Base Village is experiencing a bit of a shakeup this fall as the multimillion dollar development gears up for the next season.
Most notably, the proprietor of Aspen’s popular Kenichi restaurant will open a Snowmass outpost in the base area space formerly occupied by Sake.
“I’ve been watching Snowmass for 20 years and it feels like it’s time,” Brent Reed, owner of Kenichi Aspen and Izakaya in Carbondale, said in an interview Wednesday.
Reed opened Izakaya, modeled after Japanese pubs, in the spring of 2018 in an effort to expand the brand’s reach downvalley.
After eyeing Snowmass’ evolution and the progression of Base Village for two decades, Reed contemplated the expansion this summer and recently signed a lease. The longtime local resident commended Snowmass’ family-friendly, multigenerational feel. Reed intends to fully remodel the 2,700-square-foot-space this winter and open the doors in June.
“As the village evolves, we’re just always looking to elevate and diversify our food and beverage options,” Andy Gunion, a partner with Base Village developers East West, said Wednesday. “We’ve all been a big fan of Kenichi forever.”
Kenichi first opened in Aspen in 1991 under the ownership of Kenichi Kanada and the late Bill Rieger, whose goals were to offer fresh sushi and innovative Japanese cuisine in cool, locals’ hot spot. The restaurant and bar quickly became an Aspen institution. Reed, Rieger’s longtime business partner, assumed the business in 2011.
Asked if he has any reservations on opening a restaurant in a seasonal resort town amid — or post — pandemic, Reed said, “I really look at it as any other business challenge.”
“My whole thing has been [to] adapt and adjust, adapt and adjust. And now I’m switching to the mode of overcome,” he continued. “So, I’m confident that we’re going to get through this.”
In other Base Village dining news, Aspen Skiing Co. will assume the neighboring space that housed State 38 with a pop-up restaurant this winter. A statement from Base Village said the seasonal concept will boast “a fun rotating menu of shareable dishes and classic wines.” Gunion said East West Partners will announce news of the space’s long-term tenant within the next month.
East West is also working with the owners and operators of Base Camp and Slice to make additional upgrades and investments. The first upgrades will be noticeable this winter at Base Camp, with the addition of 28 taps to offer the largest selection of draft beer in the valley and a focus on Colorado craft brews. The restaurant and bar will also unveil a new “concise” and casual menu, Base Camp partner Charlie Burrows said.
“We’re really excited to be adding so many local beers to our drink menu, which will pair nicely with some of our new appetizers and entrees,” Burrows said in the statement.
Jus — a valley favorite that also started in Aspen and was slated to open a location in Snowmass Base Village last December — is also on track to open this winter, Gunion confirmed Wednesday.
“The future in Snowmass looks really bright,” Reed said.