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May 10, 2014
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Basalt’s Taqueria el Nopal seeks new space as clock ticks

Basalt Town Hall is willing to help defray the costs of relocation for Taqueria el Nopal if the popular restaurant is able to find a new home in the town.

The restaurant will be displaced when the town’s sale of property west of downtown to the Rocky Mountain Institute is completed and the nonprofit organization moves ahead with construction of an office building and Innovation Center. Town Manager Mike Scanlon said the institute aims to pull a building permit this fall, so it is imperative to find an alternative site for Taqueria el Nopal.

The town government is the eatery’s landlord in a ramshackle building that helps enhance the restaurant’s character. The town recently relocated residents of the adjacent Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park. Families that owned and occupied their residences were given financial resettlement packages that ranged from $15,000 to $25,000. Scanlon said a similar deal is available for the restaurant, but it is enhanced because of the expenses the business will face relocating and leasing a different space.

“For the Taqueria, it’s 50 (thousand dollars),” Scanlon said. It’s conditional based on the restaurant owners finding new space within Basalt.

Scanlon said the town’s financial relocation package acknowledges the fact that the restaurant’s rent will likely go up significantly from the $1,200 per month charged by the town. The package will help buy down that new lease amount, at least for a while, Scanlon said. The package also is intended to help with modifications of a new site and relocate equipment.

Ismael Argueta opened the restaurant 20 years ago in Basalt. He and his wife, Elida, opened a second location of the same name in Glenwood Springs in 2000. They’ve gained a loyal following throughout the Roaring Fork Valley because they offer inexpensive, authentic Mexican food.

Ismael Argueta said Friday he is still hoping “to find the right spot” in Basalt. He wants to continue operating in Basalt, but he has to make a wise business decision. One spot he looked at near Stubbies bar would have cost $500,000 to renovate, which was too expensive, he said. Scanlon said the Arguetas explored leasing the former space of Bristlecone Mountain Sports.

Argueta said he has made an offer to purchase a different space in downtown Basalt and is waiting for a reply.

“We want to stick around,” he said.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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The Aspen Times Updated May 12, 2014 06:46PM Published May 11, 2014 07:28AM Copyright 2014 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.