Brunelleschi’s Pizza, located off of Mill Street and Hopkins Avenue, shown here in a file photo, was robbed on Wednesday morning of a safe containing $15,000 in cash — tips earned by workers during the busiest week of the year, according to the restaurant’s owner.

Brunelleschi’s, the longtime Mill Street pizzeria, was burglarized in the early morning hours following New Year’s Eve, according to proprietor Gil Vanderaa and Aspen police officials.

“We think it was sometime overnight. We were out by 1 o’clock. Anytime after, it could have happened,” Vanderaa said. “They picked up the entire safe.”  

Vanderaa estimated the stolen safe’s dimensions were 22 inches by 12 inches by 15 inches, or “something like that.”

He also estimated that the safe contained “at least $15,000 in it. This time of year? Yeah.”

Much of that cash, he continued, was kept to supply the pooled tips for staff.

“It’s their tip money. It’s a bummer,” he said, adding that “we’re starting over.” 

Vanderaa himself was walking into his restaurant for a shift during the Wednesday phone interview.

The perpetrator or perpetrators — the incident is still under investigation by Aspen police, which is why police officials declined to comment beyond confirming the theft occurred — only took the safe; cash registers were left untouched, according to Vanderaa.

“The front door is all splintered. They got the lock and grabbed the safe and that was it. They didn’t touch the cash drawer or anything. Someone knew it was there,” he said, adding that the safe was located in an office in the back of the restaurant. “If you’re breaking into Bruno’s, you wouldn’t just stumble over that thing. We’re thinking it was a disgruntled employee.”

It’s the second burglary of an Aspen restaurant in less than a week. On Saturday, someone broke into Mi Chola, making off with roughly $5,000 from a safe. That, too, is still under investigation, so police could not officially comment. An email seeking comment from the restaurant ownership was not returned.

Man arrested for sexual assault during a busy New Year’s Eve for police

Aspen police officers responded to 97 calls for assistance on New Year’s Eve, resulting in one arrest for a class 3 felony of sexual assault regarding an incident at Escobar.

Zachary Lutz, 18, was arrested at 1:42 a.m. Jan. 1 in response to a report of sexual assault at the popular nightclub. The Arkansas resident posted a $10,000 bond and is due in court Jan. 21. 

That was the only actual arrest to occur, though there were several “lectures,” according to Sgt. Rick Magnuson. Incidents included trespassings at both 7908 and Chateau Eau Claire, urination at Belly Up, criminal mischief at HOPS Culture and harassment at the Residences at the Little Nell. Four coats were stolen from Mr. Grey and an assault involving two men at Eric’s Bar was also investigated.

Additionally, a 65-year-old man died of apparent natural causes on a Ute Avenue property. Responders performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but to no avail.

Megan Tackett is a reporter for the Aspen Daily News. She can be reached at or on Twitter @MeganTackett10.