Turning Japanese? Aspen’s Popcorn Wagon will offer sushi now
June 17, 2014
The Popcorn Wagon, the longtime, quick-hit food destination at the corner of East Hyman Avenue and South Mill Street, is set to reopen this week with an emphasis on a style of food it's never offered before — sushi.
Scott and Carly Weber, owners of The Regal nightclub on South Galena Street, have inked a deal with the wagon's owner to operate the popular food wagon through the upcoming summer and winter seasons. The Webers also recently signed a separate lease to take over the restaurant space next door to the wagon for their new concept, R&R, which will have a soft opening on Tuesday and a grand opening on Wednesday.
"The Sushi Wagon" also will hold its soft and grand openings on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"We're going to be doing 'The Sushi Wagon,'" Scott Weber said Sunday. "It will basically be lunch and dinner, with sushi, and Bento boxes that are like picnic packs you can take to go. We'll also do rolls and handrolls, and the menu's going to be different every day, depending on what we can get in that's fresh."
The Popcorn Wagon has had several different operators in recent years, and its fare mostly has centered around sandwiches. Hot dogs, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches and lamb gyros were standard offerings for many years, along with soft drinks and popcorn. Last winter, an outfit called Mill Street Melts moved into the space temporarily and focused on cheese paninis.
"We're still going to do popcorn and we're still going to put a late-night menu together, because people were concerned that people didn't want to eat sushi at 2 a.m.," Weber said. "So we'll probably do a hot dog and a gyro and all that stuff. But as far as during the day, we want to really push the sushi. We're looking at having high-quality sushi but at affordable prices, something everyone can enjoy in the pedestrian mall."
R&R's spot is at 305 Mill St., in the space formerly occupied by Above the Salt, which closed following the 2013 summer tourist season. Weber already has unveiled the new look for the adjacent outdoor patio, or "champagne lounge," which has a living-room atmosphere complete with sofas, soft cushions and bright-colored pillows.
R&R plans to offer weekend brunches and a menu that features healthy but flavorful offerings, including salads and small snack plates that people can share in lieu of a heavy meal. The dinner menu also will offer entrees for those with heartier appetites.
The Webers have chosen a veteran of the Aspen restaurant scene, Corey Leland, to manage the wagon. Leland worked at Matsuhisa on Main Street for 12 years until last September.
"I was lined up to work in the kitchen at R&R," Leland said. "A few days later, I was just walking by one day, and Scott was actually on the roof, and I shouted up to him, 'How about doing a sushi wagon?' And he jumped off the roof. He thought it was a great idea."
Along with Matsuhisa, Leland has previous sushi experience at Jun restaurant in Colorado Springs.
"It just kind of came to me that we should do The Sushi Wagon, so that's what we're doing," he said.