Aspen’s New York Pizza expanding to El Jebel
ASPEN – “It’s about damn time,” Earl Rodgers, co-owner of Aspen’s New York Pizza, said Monday.
No, Rodgers, a Louisiana native, wasn’t referring to the New Orleans Saints’ overtime triumph Sunday over the Minnesota Vikings, which propelled them to their first Super Bowl in the franchise’s 43-year history.
Instead, he was discussing New York Pizza’s downvalley expansion, a business plan that had been entertained for years but didn’t materialize until earlier this month when a lease was signed for a space at the Orchard Plaza shopping center in El Jebel. The new NYP is expected to open in February.
To Rodgers and co-owner Kevin Jones, the timing to expand was just right.
“I think that right now the rates are going down downvalley and we were able to negotiate the lease so that we can keep our product affordable,” Jones said.
Likewise, Rodgers said: “We’ve been waiting for the right opportunity. The rent was right and we’re getting restaurant equipment at a good price. The timing was perfect.”
In 1993, Jones and Rodgers launched Aspen’s New York Pizza on the Hyman Avenue mall. Both were in their early 20s then; in the coming months, the two entrepreneurs turn 40.
The second-floor Aspen eatery, called “Stairway to Pizza” in some circles, has earned a reputation for attracting everyone from the late-night crowds with the munchies to lunch-time and apres ski diners looking for a quick bite.
The El Jebel restaurant, which will fill the space vacated by Subway last year, will cater to a somewhat different crowd, Rodgers and Jones said.
“It will be a little more upscale and for kids,” Rodgers said. “We may have a few menu upgrades as well.”
Jones said the El Jebel spot will be “kid friendly,” and also will serve beer and wine.
It won’t be open until 2 a.m. like Aspen’s NYP, instead offering what Jones called “normal hours,” from approximately 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
But like the Aspen NYP, the El Jebel location will do deliveries in the Basalt area, said Jones, a Basalt resident himself.
“I live down there and there’s a real need for food delivery downvalley,” he said.
Jones said he expects a lot of foot traffic at the El Jebel spot, given that it’s in a shopping center anchored by City Market, one of the largest supermarkets in the Roaring Fork Valley.
The Orchard Plaza will be the second NYP to open under the reign of Jones and Rodgers. Not exactly a bustling chain, but a chain nonetheless.
As Rodgers deadpanned: “We’re a two-link chain.”
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