Aspen restaurants, businesses feel effects of Grand Ave. bridge closure
August 17, 2017
As the Grand Avenue Bridge work ramps up, downvalley delays are spoiling the Aspen food chain and creating frustration for some local restaurants.
At Jus Aspen, deliveries have been "all over the place" this week, owner Tamara Petit said Thursday.
Petit said the intermittent deliveries have been especially challenging for the juice bar and cafe, as it relies on fresh produce, some of which it has not received at all. At about 5 pounds of produce needed for one juice drink, Jus lacks the capacity to store any additional inventory, Petit said.
Annette's Mountain Bake Shop co-owner Fino Docimo said the closure and delays have affected the local eatery's deliveries.
On Wednesday, "we didn't get a delivery at all," Docimo said — despite the truck being in the area with the goods. Docimo said the driver had to pull over after reaching his maximum number of hours allowed behind the wheel because he was stuck in bridge-related traffic.
As a result, the delivery arrived one day later than planned, Docimo said.
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While food deliveries have posed anywhere from a significant to no effect on local eateries, those interviewed Thursday agreed on one point: Business declined Monday and has remained at least somewhat slower this week than last.
"As far as deliveries, everything actually has been perfect," Jimmy Bodega's manager Steele Seader said of the oyster bar and seafood restaurant. She added that they did notice "a drop in guests after the weekend."
Mondays are "always our busiest day," Petit said, noting that this week was an exception at the juice bar.
Clark's Market store director David Clark said business at the grocery store has been a little slower this week, and that most of the out-of-town shoppers he's talked with traveled over Independence Pass to reach Aspen, avoiding bridge-related traffic in the Roaring Fork Valley.
According to Stay Aspen Snowmass President Bill Tomcich, as of July 31 occupancy in Aspen and Snowmass Village for the month of August was 4.4 percent and 11.2 percent, respectively, below its 2016 counterparts.
"While the first two weeks of August were clearly quite strong, things will get noticeably quieter starting this week, considerably more so than last year," Tomcich, who tracks occupancy via the central bookings agency, wrote in a report Monday. "We'll have to see what kind of last-minute bookings the next couple of weeks bring, as there is certainly plenty of availability remaining throughout both Aspen and Snowmass."
He added, "Whether or not the Glenwood Avenue Bridge closure has any impact on future last-minute bookings will soon be known."
Tomcich was out of the office Thursday and could not be reached for further comment.
Most restauranteurs feel the Grand Avenue Bridge venture — the largest infrastructure project on the Western Slope in 25 years, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation — is in part to blame for the slower sales this week.
But other factors certainly are at play, Mi Chola co-owner Adam Malmgren pointed out, including summer winding down, a pre-Labor Day weekend lull, and the start of the school year along the Front Range and in neighboring states.
"It's hard to tell if it's the Texas exodus or what it is," Malmgren said. "We'll have to wait another week and see."