John ColsonAspen, CO Colorado

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April 19, 2007
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For sale: Woody Creek Tavern

WOODY CREEK The Woody Creek Tavern is up for sale.Shep Harris, who with his wife, Mary, owns the business and is partial owner of the building it occupies, confirmed Thursday that negotiations are under way to sell the popular restaurant and bar.But, he said, "It's not sold by any means."

"We've been trying to keep this thing under wraps. Everybody swore up and down they wouldn't tell anybody," Harris explained, "but it seems like the whole world is talking about this."Harris said the potential buyers have agreed to the asking price; he would not disclose the buyers nor the price. But, he continued, the buyers have not yet come up with the money to put the business under contract.If the deal does go through, Harris said, "They've told us they're not going to change a thing."

Woody Creeker George Stranahan once owned the group of buildings that house the Tavern, as well as the Woody Creek Store and the Woody Creek Art Studio. Now, Stranahan, his wife, Patty, and the Harrises together own the entire structure.If the bar is sold, Stranahan said the buyers will also buy the Harrises' share of a joint-use agreement that calls for the Harrises to be in charge of upkeep of the Tavern space, and the Stranahans to be in charge of the store and the art studio.Although some have suggested Stranahan buy the business from the Harrises to preserve a community institution, he has not made an offer and probably won't.

"I've bought it twice, and that's enough," he said. "I'm 75. I can't shake a martini, for Christ's sake."The Woody Creek Tavern is located along Upper River Road, adjacent to the Woody Creek Trailer Park. It has been a local hangout for about 27 years. It also has provided liquid refreshment, food, gossip and political cover to many diverse and famous personalities, including the late writer Hunter S. Thompson, movie and television star Don Johnson, and singer/songwriter Jimmy Ibbotson of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band fame.A significant moment in the spotlight for the Tavern came when former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and former U.S. President George H.W. Bush came to the area in 1990 for a summit hosted by the Aspen Institute. The pair stayed at the Woody Creek home of then-ambassador to United Kingdom James Henry Catto and reportedly ate Tavern takeout to keep their strength up. The meeting was broken up by Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, which led to the first Gulf War.John Colson's e-mail is jcolson@aspentimes.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Apr 20, 2007 07:55AM Published Apr 19, 2007 02:00AM Copyright 2007 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.