Dive bar may resurface as nightclub | AspenTimes.com

Dive bar may resurface as nightclub

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

“A Classic American Dive Bar” ” and certainly the only true one in Aspen ” is poised for an upscale move under a prospective new owner.

Jeremy Guterman, who ran Mecca last winter in a basement space on the Cooper Avenue mall, is looking to take over the Roaring Fork Tavern on Galena Street.

He has filed an application for a liquor license that indicates a transfer in ownership, but his bid to purchase the business from partners Mike Kaiser and Scott Farrell had not been finalized by midafternoon yesterday, Kaiser said.

Guterman’s license application indicates Milken Entertainment Inc., of which he is president, has leased the basement bar space until April 15, 2005.

“As a result of the success and popularity of Mecca, I decided to put my energy and resources into a new nightclub,” Guterman wrote in paperwork filed with his application.

He declined to discuss the specifics of his plans yesterday, but the new nightclub is likely be a far cry from the watering hole that RFT patrons have come to know and love.

A bumper sticker on the tavern’s street-level door proclaims RFT “A Classic American Dive Bar” ” quite the contrast from its next-door neighbor, Christian Dior.

From RFT’s front door, a flight of dingy, carpeted stairs repaired with duct tape leads to a bar furnished with tables and chairs collected from other, defunct establishments. Neon beer signs, posters, dart boards, video games and TV sets round out the no-frills decor. The odor of stale cigarette smoke permeates the air.

“It’s kind of like being in my own basement,” Kaiser said in an interview with The Aspen Times earlier this year.

Kaiser and Farrell bought the tavern in 1995. The St. Paul, Minn., natives wanted to make the RFT “a nice place to talk, drink and hang out with the normal people,” Kaiser told the Times. “The neighborhood me and Scotty both came from had a lot of little neighborhood bars. When we bought the place we wanted to make it as much like that as we possibly could.”

The pair’s lease was up in July 2004, however, and Kaiser said he had plans to leave the valley.

The tavern is one of a handful of funky Aspen hangouts, along with places like the Red Onion, Bentley’s and the Cooper Street Pier.

“We’re not proud of the fact that we’re the last funky place in town, we’re just proud of the fact that we are one,” Kaiser said.

Guterman, a graduate of Aspen High School, opened Mecca last year in the former NXT space at the corner of Galena Street and Cooper Avenue. He had a six-month sublease for the space.

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com]

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