Aspen’s Ruth’s Chris goes out of business
ASPEN – Ruth’s Chris Steak House served its last meal in Aspen on Saturday, nearly two weeks after it lost a court battle with its landlord.A sign posted at its Cooper Avenue and Galena Street location said: “To all our guests: We closed our doors on Oct. 3, 2009. We have enjoyed serving you and are proud to have brought the Ruth’s Chris experience to Aspen. We appreciate your support and patronage.”The restaurant was owned and operated by Colorado Steakhouse LLC, a franchisee of the Ruth’s Chris chain, which was founded in New Orleans in the 1960s. The Aspen eatery signed at 10-year lease in September 2006, and opened its doors in early 2007. The high-end restaurant apparently struggled financially here, and in a July bench trial in Pitkin County District Court, Colorado Steakhouse principal Tom Becnel testified it lost more than $1 million in 2007 and an estimated $700,000 last year. Its rent also commanded $35,412 a month.Colorado Steakhouse wanted the court to rescind its lease because of an alleged breach of contract by its landlord, Galena Corner LLC, the master-lease holder for the old Guido’s Inn space. Galena Corner LLC is controlled by the Aspen firm M&W Properties.At issue was whether Ruth’s Chris’ lease allowed it to use the north patio facing Cooper Avenue. At trial, attorneys for Ruth’s Chris argued that its lease entitled it to the patio, but its ground-level neighbor, Royal Street Fine Art, used the spot to store some of its inventory. Ruth’s Chris management discovered Royal Street was using the disputed space in April 2007, prompting Colorado Steakhouse to sue.A judgment in its favor would have freed it up from paying the remaining seven-plus years on its lease. The restaurant also sought $157,657 in damages for what it alleged it overpaid in rent. But Judge Denise Lynch ruled in the landlord’s favor.Becnel and Tony Mazza of M&W Properties did not return telephone messages left at their offices Tuesday.email@example.com
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