Aspens last spot for bar crowd

David Frey

The Popcorn Wagon has long been a beloved spot for Aspens bar crowd. Open till 3 a.m., the mini-restaurant on Mill Street is often the last stop for partiers after they head out the barroom doors.

Now, that popular purveyor of late night munchies is beginning a breakfast service.

Its the latest transition for the 87-year-old stand, which began as a mobile popcorn wagon and has slowly inched its way into an all-day restaurant.

Opening at 8 a.m., the Popcorn Wagon stays dark for only a few hours now, between when the bleary-eyed closing staff goes home and the red-eyed opening staff comes in.

New manager Bob Berglund, said he hopes the morning hours will serve both the working crowd on their way to downtown jobs, as well as skiers on their way to the slopes.

“We just figured theres a market there,” said Berglund who came to Aspen after restaurant work in the ski town of Bend, Ore. “On the pedestrian street here, there is no place where you can get breakfast wrapped up to go.”

The Popcorn Wagons breakfast fare includes quick breakfast burritos, crepes and potatoes, plus hot chocolate, cider and coffee – morning versions of some of the restaurants day and nighttime specialties, with the outdoor fireplace stoked to chase away the cold.

Built in 1913, the Popcorn Wagon was once stationed outside a gas station on Galena where the Paradise Bakery now stands, said owner Sue Perry.

For the past 30 or 40 years, its been at its current site, across the street from the Wheeler Opera House, where quick meals like crepes were added to the menu. Perry took it over 3 1/2 years ago, gave the Aspen landmark a facelift, added new ovens inside, and new chairs and tables outside.

The popcorn wagon has also taken a jump onto the Internet, with a new Web site, Viewers from afar can log on and get a view of Aspens downtown from the wagons webcam.

And diners at the wagon can pop in front of the camera, whip out their Nokias and tell family and friends to log on and say hello.