Could Little Annie’s reopen? Property manager says it may
December 9, 2014
The on-again, off-again Aspen restaurant Little Annie's could be reopening soon for the winter.
Lex Tarumianz, property manager of the East Hyman Avenue building where the restaurant has been housed for 42 years, said the popular eatery and bar could reopen next week. Little Annie's closed at the beginning of September for the offseason, and in November, a local newspaper reported that it would be closed for good.
"I don't have a set date or a definite (answer) yet, but we are trying to make it happen, if not this week, maybe next," Tarumianz said. "We're still working on it."
A reopening likely would be temporary, though, given that the building at 517 E. Hyman Ave. has been targeted for redevelopment sometime next year.
"It would be for the winter, at least," Tarumianz said of a possible reopening.
Regarded as an Aspen institution by many local residents who enjoy its downhome atmosphere and affordable menu items, Little Annie's has gone through a few stops and starts since it was shuttered by the state Deparment of Revenue in mid-October 2013. That closure occurred after then-owner Ed Dingilian failed to pay a few months' worth of sales taxes to the state and the city.
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About two weeks later, at a revenue department auction of the restaurant's assets, Aspen Core Ventures, the group that owns the building, bought all the equipment and furnishings in sight for the bulk price of $40,000. Then, through the efforts of Tarumianz, who works for Aspen Core Ventures — along with restaurant manager Rohn Fleming and many longtime employees — Little Annie's reopened for the 2013-14 winter season with Fleming as the new owner. Most of the 30-plus employees returned to their old jobs.
The recent closure in September was related to a construction issue at a three-story structure Aspen Core Ventures is building at the corner of East Hyman Avenue and South Hunter Street, just a stone's throw from the Little Annie's building. A transformer to serve the new building had to go in the same spot as a food cooler that was located in the alley behind the restaurant.
With the transformer installed, Tarumianz said Fleming is working on a way to set up a cooler to allow the restaurant to reopen. Fleming could not be reached for comment Monday.
Meanwhile, some former employees of the restaurant contacted by The Aspen Times on Monday said they would consider returning to their jobs but are waiting for the official word. They declined comment on the situation.
In early 2012, the Aspen City Council worked to save the Little Annie's structure and the building next to it, designed by architect Tom Benton, from potential demolition by Aspen Core Ventures, which was looking to redevelop both properties.
The council gave the developer certain concessions for the new three-story building on the corner — including the right to construct a rooftop penthouse — and the developer agreed to keep the other two buildings intact while also planning their renovations.