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Some Aspen eateries to stay open for offseason

John ColsonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN, Colorado When the ski lifts close down for the season on April 12, will Aspen empty out like a city bus at the end of the last route of the day?During most off-seasons, workers take the opportunity to travel to exotic locales, get in a little beach time or just hit the road. This year, though, that may not be the norm, given the hit that many workers personal finances have suffered due to the ongoing recession.Either way, it appears that if there are some of people left here over the off-season, theyll at least have some places to eat.For example, many of the towns quick lunch outlets Grateful Deli, Johnny McGuires, New York Pizza, Tasters and Toppers will be open for business through the off-season and into the summer, according to a list compiled by the Aspen Chamber Resort Association (ACRA).And the last two on the list have evening hours, as well, which they say will be in effect.Two jointly-owned businesses, the Double Dog Irish Pub and The Steak Pit, are splitting their off-season. Owner Bob Glowacki said The Steak Pit will be closed, as it is every year, from April 19 through May 7. But the Double Dog, he said, will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays through the off-season, and probably will continue their tradition of Tuesday night live music.I think a lot of people are thinking that nobodys leaving town, said Glowacki, musing that business owners have decided to see if we can make up for some of the bad winter.Another staple eatery of the community, the Hickory House at the western end of Main Street, will be staying open but closing on Mondays and Tuesdays.At Rustique, the owners have decided to stay open for the off-season, offering pre-fixe dinners Tuesdays through Saturdays, at lower costs than can be had during high season.Its basically a free appetizer and maybe a little bit off [the price], said bartender Steve Smith. He said the restaurant will be closed Sundays and Mondays, because business is obviously down, and those are two nights we figured its better to close. The restaurant will reopen for its regular hours in late May or early June, Smith said.Two of the towns three establishments lumped under the sushi label Kenichi and Matsuhisa will be open throughout the off-season, although Kenichi, at 533 E. Hopkins Ave., will be closed on Mondays and Matsuhisa, 303 E. Main St., will open its downstairs dining area on Thursdays through Saturdays. The third, Takah Sushi, 320 S. Mill St., is closing on April 12 and reopening May 28.For those in search of sweets, Paradise Bakery, corner of Galena and Hopkins, will be open through the off-season, according to the ACRA list, serving up cookies, ice cream, coffee, espresso and other fare from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.Of course, as happens every year, some places will be closing, either for a week or two, or for the entire off-season, if not longer.Main Street Bakery & Caf, at the corner of Aspen and Main streets, will be closing its doors for the usual 10 days in the middle of the off-season May 1 through May 10, to get set for the summer and spruce up its patio dining space.At the Crystal Palace Grille, 300 E. Hyman Ave., part-owner Brad Smith said the kitchen was set to stop serving food last weekend, although the bar will be open until the lifts close on Aspen Mountain. There will still be open mic nights every Monday and Karaoke every Thursday.As for the summer, Smith said, Im hopeful that we are [going to reopen], but Im not positive.Dish Aspen, 430 E. Hyman Ave., is another business that is closing for the off-season, starting on April 10.The restaurant is for sale, and if it doesnt sell well reopen for the summer somewhere around the end of May, said owner Mitch Sher.Explore Bistro, at 221 E. Main St., is closing down for the entire off-season the first time it has happened in recent memory. But the reason for the closure, said manager Linda Schultz, is positive news for Aspen.She explained that the Bistros kitchen is being remodeled and expanded into the old Travel Room on the mezzanine floor to provide more cooking space, while a new second-floor patio is being added off the rear wall of the dining area to provide more eating space.While everybody else is shutting down and worried, bless our owners, they are seeing this as a necessary step in improving our business, Schultz said.The Bistro is to reopen on June 1, and Schultz emphasized that the Explore Booksellers book store will be open throughout the off-season, as will the first-floor coffee nook selling organic brew and pastries.Keeping in the that realm, Zl, the long-time coffee shop across from City Hall, is closing for good on April 12, a victim of the recession, while Starbucks, in the Gondola Plaza, will be open through the off-season, as will Ink! Coffee, at 530 E. Durant Ave.For the full list of restaurants opened and closed, call ACRA at 925-1940 and ask to have it faxed or e-mailed, or stop by at the ground level office in the Rio Grande Parking Garage off North Mill Street to pick one up.


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