Days may be numbered for popular Ajax Tavern | AspenTimes.com
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Days may be numbered for popular Ajax Tavern

Naomi Havlen

The future of the Ajax Tavern, an après-ski venue with front-row seats to the skiing on Aspen Mountain, is currently in question.According to Eric Calderon, vice president and general manager of The Little Nell hotel, the restaurant’s current lease ends in 2007, and he knows they’ll be leaving their location.”They’re not leaving town – I’m sure they’re looking at other spaces,” he said. Pam McLain, the restaurant’s manager, could not be reached for comment on Monday.Calderon confirmed that the hotel is considering turning the restaurant’s 2,000 square feet into hotel rooms when the restaurant leaves. While Ajax Tavern is known for its patio dining directly at the bottom of the Little Nell run adjacent to the gondola, a new project, with possibly three times the deck space, has been approved just a few hundred feet away.”The reason why [we’re thinking about turning Ajax Tavern into hotel rooms] is because the new project will have a restaurant as well, and their deck will be over 3,000 square feet,” Calderon said.The Residences at Little Nell, a fractional-ownership project, will rise from Dean Street up the lower slopes of Little Nell at skier’s left. The Aspen City Council gave the project final approval in October.The new project will step its way up the ski slope, and include 24 fractional-ownership suites, eight standard lodging units, two free-market residences and eight studio apartments for employees. The hotel’s restaurant, bar and outdoor terrace will be open to the public during ski season for at least three hours after the gondola closes, and will be open from June 15 through Oct. 15 during the gondola’s operating hours.Calderon said he wouldn’t be surprised if Ajax Tavern is interested in taking over that space once their lease expires.”They’re one of many restaurateurs talking to us about the restaurant,” confirmed RJ Gallagher of Gallagher Sharp West, a local marketing company that represents the Residences’ developers. “At this point there’s nothing specific that we’re looking for, we’re just seeing what interested parties are out there.”The Residences at Little Nell developers Aspen Land Fund LLC are hoping the project will be completed by 2007, but they’re unsure about the finality of that date.”There is a lot of interest in the restaurant space, but why wouldn’t there be?” Gallagher said. “It’s a pretty high profile location.”Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com

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