Two new restaurants fill prime vacancies in Basalt | AspenTimes.com

Two new restaurants fill prime vacancies in Basalt

Janet Urquhart/The Aspen TimesPatrons sit outside the new Asiana Fusion on Sunday. The restaurant has opened at Willits in Basalt.

BASALT – Two restaurants are opening in Basalt at prime sites that haven’t panned out for other operators, for one reason or another, during these tough economic times.

Asiana Fusion opened this past weekend in a ground floor, corner spot in the Triangle Park Lofts building of Willits Town Center. In addition, the Brick Pony Pub intends to open July 1 in the former Basalt Bistro spot on Midland Avenue in downtown Basalt.

Max and Linda Chiou are behind Asiana Fusion, which Max said will feature a broad selection of cuisine, including Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese. There will be a variety of noodle dishes and a sushi bar, as well as a full bar.

Asiana Fusion will be open for lunch and dinner. The menu shows numerous lunch items for $6.

This is the first restaurant in the Roaring Fork Valley for the Chious. They own and operate Zen Garden in Grand Junction.

Their site at Willits Town Center was formerly occupied by Crave Kitchen, which ran into financial difficulties when the recession hit, and the short-lived Bee’s Kitchen, which struggled for an identity and closed in fall 2010. The spot sat empty throughout last winter and this spring even though neighboring restaurants Smoke and El Korita draw big crowds to the area.

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The Brick Pony Pub will be opened by Greg Jurgensen, a veteran of the Aspen restaurant scene, along with partner Pam Tamburro. The historic brick building on Basalt’s main drag was once home to the legendary Midland Bar, then did a 180-degree transformation into the Basalt Bistro, the hotspot in town for several years. The Bistro ran into trouble after it changed hands a second time. The spot was most recently occupied by Fatbelly Eats, which opened in fall 2010 and closed in March, never getting to test the market in Basalt’s busy summer season.

Jurgensen said he wants to create a restaurant and bar where people will stop by for a beer after work, check out live music on weekend nights and go out for an affordable dinner on date nights.

“We want to turn it back into the social hub it used to be,” he said. “We’re not reinventing the wheel here.”

He is working with the Aspen Brewery in hopes of serving their beers on tap. On Friday and Saturday nights, he wants to showcase local musicians and bands. “We have unbelievable talent here,” he said of the valley’s music scene.

The focus will be on the food, and it will be open for lunch and dinner. The menu will feature locally grown, organic produce. Jurgensen is also shopping for locally grown meat that’s free of hormones, antibiotics and steroids.

“It’s called a pub, but pub food used to be chicken wings,” Jurgensen said. He and his partner are looking at dishes like homemade chicken pot pie, shepherd’s pie, burgers and salads. They will develop some signature dishes that draw people to the pub, like the steaks and fish tacos drew people to the Mustang bar in Aspen when Jurgensen owned and operated it.

There will be specials geared toward a special night on the town, but the pub will be very affordable, Jurgensen said. The restaurant will be reasonably priced for the homemade foods, he said. Affordability will be essential for the neighborhood bar Jurgensen envisions. It will have five or more flat-screen TVs showing sports.

Jurgensen and his crew have the interior of the place gutted. The interior layout will remain the same as it has been, but he is installing custom-made booths. “You’re definitely come in and have a big ‘wow’ factor when you see it,” he said.

scondon@aspentimes.com

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