ASPEN - The eagerly anticipated Roxy's grocery store opened for business this week at the Aspen Business Center, giving locals another option for food selection that ranges from products produced in the valley to specialty items that can't be found at other Aspen markets.
Roxanne and Mike Lawler opened the market on Tuesday and there was a steady stream of customers throughout the day.
Roxy's replaced Alpine Mountain Market, which closed earlier this year after the owner retired. The space has been completely renovated and the inventory appears to be at least double what was there before.
Gone are the greasy fried chicken and corn dogs that were popular with construction workers. There's still hot food - breakfast burritos and egg sandwiches, as well as rotisserie turkeys and chickens, which will appear on the shelves soon.
Lunches now include fresh sandwiches made from Columbus premium deli meat, pre-cooked dishes from Louis Swiss Bakery and an array of salads, pasta and other quick items.
Sliced meat and cheese from San Francisco-based Columbus is available behind the counter and two butchers are on hand to help with selections.
Across the aisle is an assortment of meat, some locally grown and grass fed from Carbondale-based Milagro Ranch, and others from Harris Ranch of California. Also on display are smoked oysters, mussels, sea scallops, tuna steak and all-natural stuffed pork chops.
The frozen section includes pre-made quiches, and deep dish lasagna and pie, as well as mahi mahi and salmon burgers.
Roxanne Lawler said she wants to have as many local products as possible. The flowers are from the Aspen Branch and the bagels are brought to the store daily from Basalt's The Upper Crust.
Roxanne said she has begun networking with Western Slope farmers to get their products in the store, and with local food makers.
On Tuesday, she was stocking an end cap on one of the aisles with a valley caterer's Aspen Cornucopia basil vinaigrette and marinade.
"I love it," Roxanne Lawler said. "We're trying to get choices in here that are local."
She said the problem she's facing right now is that local producers can't provide the quantity needed for a full-service grocery store.
"I'm working on it," Roxanne said. "But we have the relationships established."
She said she expects a lot more fresh produce from local farmers in the spring and summer.
Throughout the aisles, there are plenty of specialty items such as an Italian line of sauces and pastas hand selected by Roxanne.
"Some of this incredible," she said as she pointed to the products. "The fun thing is we get to try new things."
Roxanne said she's especially excited about the Columbus meat, which is gluten free and has no fillers.
"They are super competitive with Boar's Head," she said, adding there will be tastings of Columbus and other products in the coming days.
The wife-husband duo are still stocking the shelves, which are about two-thirds full. Specialty cheeses are on their way, Roxanne said.
Prices are between Clark's Market and City Market, with the goal of matching the latter, Roxanne said.
"We're pretty competitive," she said. "We've got the best in the lower category and the best in the higher category.
"We're offering healthier choices and I'm hoping people will try them," she added. "We'll listen ... we're open to feedback."
The Lawlers also own groceries in Telluride and Rangley. Both stores were opened a little more than three years ago.
The Lawlers hope the ABC location serves a niche and provides a convenient spot for residents who live off Highway 82 just outside of Aspen, and don't want to come into town and deal with traffic and a lack of parking.
That's certainly the case for Mark Devlin, who lives nearby at the North Forty and has an office at the ABC.
"Thank God," he said while shopping Tuesday. "It's so nice to have a store again."