Little Annie’s — the longtime Aspen affordable and down-home restaurant popular with locals and visitors alike — has been closed by the state Department of Revenue over its alleged failure to pay sales taxes.
The chalkboard outside the 41-year-old East Hyman Avenue institution usually lists daily lunch specials: On Monday, it promoted a ravioli-and-salad combo for $10.95. Today a note was scrawled on the blackboard, simply stating, “Little Annie’s will be closed today. We love you all. The crew.”
Inside the front door, the state has fixed a large poster against the window that boldly says, in large red letters, “SEIZED.” A letter next to the poster, carrying Friday’s date and attributed to Karen Springer, tax compliance agent for the state revenue department, alleges that Annie’s failed to pay state sales taxes from April to August amounting to $44,551.
Attempts by the Aspen Times to reach restaurant employees and managers today at mid-afternoon were not immediately successful. The eatery employs more than 30 full- and part-time workers.
Little Annie’s already was expected to close in its current location for the winter because of a planned remodel of the historic building where it is housed. Also, its future was in doubt — the building owners, Aspen Core Ventures LLC, a development group led by Nikos Hecht — have been negotiating with other Aspen restaurant owners to take over the space next summer, according to local real-estate sources familiar with the situation.
In early 2012, the Aspen City Council worked to save the structure housing Little Annie’s and the building next to it, designed by the late architect Tom Benton, from potential demolition by providing various concessions tied to another nearby Aspen Core Ventures project, a three-story building with a penthouse.
That building is under construction at the corner of East Hyman Avenue and South Hunter Street.
For more on the story, read Wednesday’s Aspen Times.