Basalt restaurant listens to its local patrons and expands |

Basalt restaurant listens to its local patrons and expands


BASALT ” A two-year-old Basalt restaurant isn’t letting the recession interfere with a golden opportunity to expand.

Cuvee World Bistro is taking over adjacent space that was occupied by Aspen Sotheby’s International Realty in the Riverside Plaza building along Two Rivers Road in Basalt. Cuvee owners Krystal and Mitch Levy are transforming the additional 650 square feet they are leasing into a bar. The expansion also will give them additional patio space this summer.

Mitch said the expansion was strongly suggested by their local following. Known for its extensive wine selection, the restaurant’s small bar is usually filled with locals. The demand exists for a larger bar, a little more segregated from the dining room.

“If you wanted to go get a drink, you didn’t think of us,” Krystal said.

The expansion will allow for a larger bar, several high-top tables and areas for two people called “deuces.” A corner will be left clear for a band for occasional live music.

While the bar will be separated from the dining room, there will be an open wall between the two. Krystal said Cuvee’s bar won’t be for late-night drinkers “and we’re not going to have disco night.” But the couple also stressed that and they don’t see their establishment as catering to the “pretentious wine types.” They see the bar as a nice place for folks to gather after work or while going out in the evening.

“We’ve had a couple of guests refer to our [bar] as ‘Cheers,'” Mitch said, referring to the legendary bar of TV fame. It helps that their restaurant manager and bartender, Shelly Moe, has an innate ability to remember what repeat customers like to drink.

Cuvee serves 70 wines by the glass and has more than 130 wines available. The menu recommends pairings of wines with dishes. The bar will also feature liquor and draft beer.

The Levyes opened their restaurant in July 2007. Krystal is a third-generation native of the valley and Mitch’s work as a chef attracted him to the Aspen area in 1990. They moved in 2002 and opened a restaurant, also known as Cuvee, in Tucson. They wanted to return to the Roaring Fork Valley and raise their three sons, so they jumped at the opportunity to rent a space in Riverside Plaza when it was vacated by another restaurant two years ago. They tried to run both restaurants, but sold the Cuvee in Tucson to concentrate on Basalt.

Mitch sad they were pondering an expansion last year and considered taking over the Wienerstube site in Basalt, but balked because it didn’t feel quite right. They really didn’t need the kitchen equipment. That space was ultimately leased by Midland Bakery. When the Sotheby’s spot became free, they seized it.

Making the move during a recession is somewhat daunting, and Krystal said they are taking a big chance. Mitch said the expansion is being personally financed, with the help of their daytime cook, Barb Sinclair, who has become an investor. They said they feel their strong local clientele and pricing strategy will allow them to weather the current economic storm. Mitch noted the eatery has only one item on the menu that costs more than $20.

The goal is to open the new bar by June.

There has been a spurt of activity lately in the Basalt restaurant scene. Darwin’s opened in Orchard Plaza by Movieland while the nearby Capitol Deli closed. Crave Kitchen closed at Willits and Basalt Bistro changed hands.

Summer is the busy season for Basalt eateries, so restaurant owners and operators are eager to end this lackluster period and get to their bread and butter time.

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