Aspen Brewing Co., Over Easy to close as Hillstone Restaurant Group takes over
Two local favorites — a popular breakfast and lunch spot and Aspen’s lone microbrewery — will close their doors by the end of October.
Over Easy and Aspen Brewing Co. have received letters of notice from Hillstone Restaurant Group, which owns the Seguin Building where the businesses operate, to vacate the space by Oct. 31.
Hillstone Restaurant Group purchased the building at 304 E. Hopkins Ave. from Aspen developer Mark Hunt on May 10 for $6 million.
The Hillstone chain is in more than 10 states and operates nearly 50 restaurants, including the White House Tavern next to the Seguin Building.
Over Easy will scramble its last dish in its current home Oct. 28; Aspen Brewing will pour its final pints Oct. 31.
While both businesses are looking for new homes in town, as of Thursday, no official plans had been arranged.
“I’m really sad, honestly. I’m heartbroken,” Over Easy owner Mladen Todorovic said. “We want to stay in Aspen, I live in Aspen, I feel like I’m an Aspenite. I would love to continue working and living here, living my dream.”
“Being a business owner in America is just something everybody wants to do. It’s what we come here to do,” said Todorovic, who emigrated to the U.S. from Serbia when he was 20 years old. “Doing it in Aspen is the most rewarding.”
Todorovic said he’s searching for another spot but “there is just nothing in town that is affordable.”
“(The restaurant) just can’t be super expensive,” he said. “It’s not the way we operate.”
Todorovic said he is considering other options that include purchasing or joining other restaurant ventures in Aspen and/or relocating Over Easy downvalley, potentially in Willits Town Center.
“We built an incredible local following,” Todorovic said, which is one of the reasons Over Easy is among the handful of Aspen restaurants that remain open year-round. “We are extremely fortunate that people really responded well to our identity.”
As for its upstairs neighbor, Aspen Brewing Co. bar manager Danny Collins said, “We don’t know where we’re going.”
“Hopefully somewhere in town, but we don’t really have anything,” Collins said. “I know (Aspen Brewing Co. owner) Duncan (Clauss) has been talking to some people about some places but nothing’s certain.
“Hopefully we’ll find something.”
Clauss is currently out of the country and could not be reached for comment Thursday.
White House Tavern general manager Helen McIntyre said Thursday that the restaurant group “doesn’t know” what will occupy the space yet.
“A ton of time does go into planning,” McIntyre said, “and a ton of work needs to happen over there.”
When asked if the space will for certain house a restaurant given Hillstone’s record, McIntyre said, “The company has some retail spaces,” adding, “but that’s not to say it will be retail.”
Outside its restaurants, Hillstone’s ventures include a wine shop in Beverly Hills and its “Honor Market” in Montecito that offers home goods as well as food, McIntyre said.
“Our restaurant concepts vary, (White House) being the more casual of them,” McIntyre said. “We could go all the way up to our steakhouse concepts.”
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Pitkin County administrators are proposing a more than $142 million budget for 2020, which is about $6 million less than this year because of fewer construction projects and capital improvements.