Changes on tap for The Cantina |

Changes on tap for The Cantina

Naomi Havlen

Two new co-owners of The Cantina are planning to revamp the restaurant that sits on Aspen’s busiest corner.

Aspen residents Darren Chapple and Troy Selby negotiated with Cantina owner Joe Cosniac to become co-owners of the Mexican eatery at the intersection of Main and Mill streets. Cosniac will remain as a silent partner. Chapple, who has worked at the popular bar and restaurant for the past six years, said he and Selby plan to serve more authentic food.

“As long as The Cantina has been here it’s never changed, and you could say that change is necessary to stay alive,” he said. “We want to promote a healthier, vibrant, energetic atmosphere that appeals to everybody.”

The name will stay the same with one exception ” Chapple said the new co-owners are adding “Mountain Coastal Mex” as a subtitle.

“We’re inspired by Southern California traditional and authentic Mexican food,” Chapple said. “We’d like to add things to the menu like pan-seared halibut and a few different ceviches.”

The Aspen Times reported in July that Cosniac was aiming to sell the restaurant, quoting commercial broker Ruth Kruger from The Fleisher Co. as saying he was ready for a change. She said Cosniac is a part-time Aspen resident who wants to turn his attention to his three restaurants in San Antonio, his home state.

The restaurant was on the market for $975,000, Kruger said in July.

Chapple said he and Selby went to Cosniac to ask him to consider letting them revamp the restaurant, rather than selling it altogether.

“We thought he would be a fool to sell the restaurant, because it’s obviously an ideal location,” Chapple said. “This has always been a popular spot compared to other restaurants in town, but because they never improved the menu or changed it, business stagnated. We also feel that Aspen is completely lacking in authentic Mexican food.”

Chapple and Selby have both lived in Aspen since 1996. Selby, who has been the chef at Lucci’s Italian Restaurant, will be the executive chef for The Cantina, and Chapple will be the general manager.

The new co-owners also plan to promote a bigger, better happy hour with occasional live music in the bar area, a late night food menu of taco and burrito fare until 2 a.m., and possibly a Saturday and Sunday brunch.