Business Monday: Annette’s Bakery, other retailers to leave Aspen building poised for redevelopment
A group of retail businesses in one of downtown Aspen’s pedestrian malls are either permanently shutting their doors or lining up a new spot with the pending redevelopment of the building they occupy at 420 E. Hyman Ave.
“Find us a place to rent,” Annette and Fino Docimo said more than a few times Friday as customers filed in and out of the quaint restaurant that’s built a loyal lunch crowd over its past eight years.
Known as Annette’s Mountain Bake Shop, it will close at the end of September, the two said. They’re looking for another location but said it’s a difficult assignment given Aspen’s rents don’t favor mom-and-pop stores.
Neighbor CB Paws, a pet shop, will be in its space through the end of November, said Steve Fante, who has owned the business for 24 years.
Fante, however, said his business operations won’t be interrupted because he is lining up another downtown location for CB Paws.
“We’ll have a place by December,” he said.
The same goes for artist Guadalupe Laiz, who said she will relocate her gallery to another spot after being there one year.
“It’s a short-term lease,” she said, “and I’ve been aware of it and the response here has been wonderful.”
Less clear is the future of Aspen Hair Co. Located on the building’s second floor, the salon was closed Friday and its owners weren’t available for comment.
The Hyman Avenue building changed ownership in April 2017 when California-based Downtown 420 LLC bought it for $8.25 million. Downtown 420 is controlled by The Ezralow Cos of Calabasas, California, who has been letting tenants know their days are numbered because of the redevelopment, the business operators said.
Another tenant, Zocalito Latin Bistro, closed in September 2018 after its ownership decided to relocate because of the building’s limited future.
The building comes with city approvals for a third-floor penthouse dating to 2013; the city outlawed downtown penthouse developments in 2012, but not until after the then-owners of the 420 E. Hyman building submitted their land-use application. The scrape-and-replace project also calls for retail space and affordable housing.
Chris Severson, a regular customer at Annette’s, called its current location a “unique spot in Aspen unlike any other,” noting its food and baked goods have kept him coming back “maybe because of my Italian upbringing.”
Severson said he eats there “five days a week if I can,” adding that Fino on occasion would slip in some bacon on his prosciutto sandwich — a nice, personal touch not common at other restaurants, he said.
More evidence of Annette’s homey atmosphere, Severson noted, can be found on a wall of the eatery, where a young resident’s school writing assignment describes the bakery. It reads, in part, “I bite into the freshly made sandwich Annette places in front of me. It’s like a mother’s cooking, but better. A piece of eggplant spills onto my math homework. Ella Fitzgerald quietly hums in the background. This is my happy place. This is home.”
Annette and Fino Docimo work at Annette’s the six days it’s open a week — they take a slight break on Sunday when it’s closed — making soups, sandwiches, daily specials and baked goods ranging from cookies and pastries to donuts and bread.
“It’s the only bakery we’ve owned together,” Fino said, noting their experience running a restaurant in Snowmass Village as well as operating the Popcorn Wagon some 16 years ago, when it was consistently open for business.
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The Melville family didn’t distance themselves from ownership of a local mountainside chalet for too long.