Bia Hoi closes in Snowmass; new restaurants opening in Aspen this spring

Jill Beathard
The Aspen Times
Hooch, Meat & Cheese's new basement bar, opened this spring and starts daily operations June 1.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

As seasons come and go in a mountain town, so do some local businesses.

That has been the case during many an offseason in the Aspen area. This spring, Aspen had to bid farewell to the beloved Little Annie’s, a mainstay on Hyman Avenue for more than 40 years.

In Snowmass Village, a relatively new business also will not be reopening after this ski season. Bia Hoi, a Base Village restaurant with a Southeast Asian-inspired menu, closed for good this spring after less than three years of operation.

A team led by Los Angeles-based Chef Tim Goodell opened Bia Hoi and nearby Ricard in Base Village in 2013. After that first ski season, though, Goodell and some other individuals involved in the beginning pulled out, and Related took over the restaurants’ leases.

While the Viceroy Snowmass’ food and beverage team took over the slopeside Ricard, Chef Jeff Armstrong and his wife, Toni, continued to operate Bia Hoi.

When the Armstrongs first came on board, they and everyone else expected some new construction in Base Village by this time, Toni Armstrong said Wednesday. Instead, the Bia Hoi space still faces a blue facade covering up partially finished construction below the bottom terminal of the Elk Camp Gondola.

Related Colorado terminated its management agreement with the Armstrongs at the end of the ski season, Toni Armstrong said. They are relocating with their three children to Washington, D.C.

Bia Hoi was the third restaurant to operate in that space, also formerly occupied by Burger Bar & Fish and Buchi. Leticia Hanke, marketing director for Related Colorado, said the company is interviewing potential tenants to open in the space this ski season.

In addition, Generation Snowmass, a Base Village clothing store, is not reopening, and Venga Venga is closing its express location in the food truck on the Snowmass Village Mall, according to a representative of Snowmass Tourism.

When one door closes …

Offseason doesn’t bring all bad news. In Aspen, dining establishments Mi Chola and Hooch both opened this spring. And Bootsy Bellows is expected to open in its new location in the former Crystal Palace in June.

Hooch opened in mid-April in the basement space most recently occupied by Aspen Dollar Bar on Hopkins Avenue, renovated this winter. Hooch complements its sister restaurant of Meat & Cheese with a craft cocktail list and a small menu of appetizers and desserts.

“Because of the construction, we didn’t really have the option” to open during ski season, said general manager Lindze Letherman. But the team also decided not to wait until the summer tourist season.

“This is an awesome opportunity to work out some kinks and get in with the locals who are here,” Letherman said.

So far, Hooch seems to have done just that, with a packed bar most of the four nights a week it’s currently open. Starting June 1, it will be open daily.

Mexican restaurant Mi Chola opened on Main Street just in time for Cinco de Mayo. The Bootsy Bellows nightclub is moving from its former home in a basement space on Hopkins Avenue after the building changed hands earlier this year.

Bootsy Bellows will now be the only nightclub-style establishment on street level in Aspen.

Local chef Barclay Dodge is reportedly on track to open Bosq this week, located in the former Meatball Shack space, which closed permanently in April. Dodge told The Aspen Times in March that the cuisine will be modern Mediterranean with an international flair.