Change on The Mother Lode menu | AspenTimes.com
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Change on The Mother Lode menu

Janet Urquhart
The Mother Lode property is slated for redevelopment, following the City Council's approval on Monday. The venerable restaurant may remain. Aspen Times photo/Paul Conrad.
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Fans of The Mother Lode have likely eaten their last meal on its outdoor patio, but there’s still hope that the popular restaurant will survive a looming redevelopment of the property.Longtime operator Howard Ross, however, is ready to retire from the restaurant business. Ross and partner Gordon Whitmer plan to sell the Hyman Avenue property to Doug Brown, a California developer with homes in both Aspen and California.Last night, the City Council OK’d plans to tear down the rear of The Mother Lode building and construct a new, three-story addition behind the historic front portion. The restaurant’s outdoor patio will also be filled in – with a new one-story addition.”The Mother Lode is going to be sorely missed,” said Mayor Helen Klanderud.But perhaps it’s only Ross who will be missed. He is working with Brown to continue the operation of the restaurant – with someone else at the helm.”It’s not the end of The Mother Lode. The building will be called The Mother Lode for sure. Just 37 years of running a restaurant – it’s time,” Ross said, explaining his desire to retire.Whether the restaurant, currently closed for the offseason, will reopen at all this summer is up in the air. Brown, representing Regent Properties, Inc., would like to begin the redevelopment as soon as possible.The addition will allow commercial use on the ground floor and add two free-market residences and two employee units on the upper stories. The rear addition will top out at 42 feet.It was the Aspen Historic Preservation Commission that suggested developers eliminate the patio since, historically, downtown buildings were flush with the street.”I still hate to see that open space go,” Klanderud said. “I’m not sure, even in the historic core, that’s the most attractive thing to do.”One last approval must come from the HPC. It is scheduled to take up the exterior building materials for the project on May 25.The false storefront-style of the existing Mother Lode will be retained.”I find this to be a very sensitive design and very appropriate,” said Councilwoman Rachel Richards.The city had a chance to buy The Mother Lode property for $3.25 million, but voters turned the purchase down in November 2003. The city had eyed the property for future expansion of the Wheeler, while also maintaining the restaurant.Anyone who thought the property would stay as is was mistaken, Richards noted.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com


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