Asher on Aspen: The Kemo Sabe Experience

Shannon Asher
Asher on Aspen

Almost in unison, our boots clinked on the hardwood floor as we walked into the store.

We were greeted by employees who welcomed us with a tip of the hat and a warm smile. I spotted the owner, Tom Yoder, in the distance. He was dressed in his signature silverbelly cowboy hat, a button-down red flannel and stylish jeans that were tucked into his knee-high cowboy boots. He quickly approached our group and kindly wished me a happy birthday.

Kemo Sabe is one of my favorite escapes in Aspen and I couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d rather spend my birthday. Upon arrival, I always feel as if I have been transported into another world. The Western cowboy ambiance reminds me of simpler times and the classic country tunes have a sweet way of raising my spirits. One of my dear friends and I happen to share a birthday and we both agreed this was the perfect way to celebrate another year.

Just above the Kemo Sabe store lives a quaint little watering hole that is undeniably Aspen’s best-kept secret. Primarily reserved for private events, the bar is also open to clients and friends who are lucky enough to be invited upstairs. I have lived in this town for almost four years and attending a party in this unique event space has always been on the bucket list.

Cowboy boots lined the stairs that led us up to the Western-themed rendezvous. Turn-of-the-century vintage saddles were positioned against the wall — with one of them holding a Remington 1850 in the holster. A Cheyenne ceremonial dress hangs next to a buffalo skull just above John Wayne’s old hat — all of which are for sale. The bison mount, whom employees have named Roosevelt, looms over the store diligently while keeping a watchful eye over bar patrons.

One by one, our friends start to arrive. Everyone is dressed in their best Western wear attire and I could not be more content with the people in attendance and the friendly ambiance now surrounding me. It was so entertaining to witness everyone’s reactions to the cowboy haven that is Kemo Sabe. Many of my friends had experienced the store but not necessarily the upstairs bar.

George Strait echoes over the loudspeaker. I scan the room and proudly observed my friends singing along to “Amarillo By Morning.” A 1930s Gibson guitar sits quietly in the corner adjacent to the refrigerator which is fully stocked with a wide selection of beers. There is a shotgun nestled next to a longhorn skull that has been deliberately transformed into a shotski.

One could spend hours marveling over the decor in the store. Horse whips (known as quirts) dangle from an antique vintage rake. Patrons are invited to hang their coats on the same rack that holds vintage chaps from the early 1900s. It’s safe to assume most things in the store are available for purchase; however, don’t fall in love quite yet with the custom-made, hand-tooled Kemo Sabe leather bag that is on display. This particular bag was gifted to the owner and is unfortunately off-limits for purchase.

The staff begins to circulate appetizers and almost immediately, my friend alerts us that the staff has branded my initials into the buns of the brisket sliders. Later I find out my initials were also branded into the clementines positioned on the fruit display. I was impressed with the staff’s desire to make the event personalized and heartfelt. It was as if I had known the staff for years, when in reality, I was meeting these people for the very first time.

One of the bartenders asked to refill my drink and I wondered how this night could get any better. To my surprise, it absolutely did.

I hear a confident voice over the megaphone, directing us to turn our attention downstairs. The team at Kemo Sabe walked through the front door and surprised us with the most scrumptious-looking cupcakes. My cheeks turned a rosy shade of red as they approached us with the tray of desserts and friends began to sing “Happy Birthday.”

The evening was truly a one-of-a-kind affair from start to finish. There is absolutely no where else in town that offers this kind of experience and ambiance. If you’re in need of a unique event space, gallop on over to the upstairs bar at Kemo Sabe and impress your friends with this unparalleled experience. Yee-haw!

Aspen Times Weekly

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