Fewer dining options in Snowmass Base Village
June 22, 2011
SNOWMASS VILLAGE – With one restaurant shutting down for good at the end of ski season and another taking a summer break, Base Village has fewer eating and drinking options.
After about a year in business, Buchi Sushi has closed its doors, according to Jim DeFrancia, whose firm Lowe Enterprises Community Development is the court-appointed receiver for the bankrupt Base Village development.
“It’s a tough market up there right now,” DeFrancia said. “They were just having a hard time making it and we came to an agreed resolution of their situation. We let them out of their lease and they went their way.”
So Base Village is no longer “swimming in sushi,” as one newspaper headline put it in April 2010. It’s wading in the stuff, though, with the Viceroy Snowmass Hotel continuing to offer traditional nigiri and sushi as well as related specialty dishes at the Nest Lounge and Cafe. Up on the Snowmass Mall, most of the familiar restaurants and retail stores are open for the summer.
DeFrancia said Buchi Sushi’s operators didn’t ask for any concessions as a trade-off for remaining open. “There’s not much rent to reduce,” he said. “We’re charging a very nominal rent. We’re trying to be as helpful as we can to all of the tenants. But we kind of got to the point where there’s not a lot more we can do.”
He said most of the other Base Village eateries are operating normally this summer, with one notable exception: Sneaky’s Tavern, which is owned and operated by Aspen Skiing Co.
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Skico decided to shut Sneaky’s down for the summer, with a planned reopening around Thanksgiving. DeFrancia said he is talking regularly with Skico about the possibility of opening Sneaky’s at certain times during the summer.
“There’s a limited market,” he said. “And so if you’ve got The Sweet Life, Base Camp Bar and Grill and Sneaky’s, and you close one, then that leaves the other two to get a bigger share of what is a small market.”
DeFrancia pointed out that the original Base Village plans eight years ago called for 650 condominium units, which would have provided a stronger residential base to fuel the development’s businesses. Today, only 90 condos are occupied.
“When you consider that the Base Village plan calls for 650 condos and they’ve only got 90, you can appreciate that there’s just not the density there right now that is ultimately called for,” he said. “In the long term, everybody is very optimistic; it’s working our way through the short-term scenario that’s tough. At the end of the day, all of this stuff is going to be just fine.”
DeFrancia said turnover among Snowmass Village and Aspen eateries is typically frequent. He said his company is looking aggressively for a new tenant to fill the space vacated by Buchi Sushi.
“Hopefully we’ll find someone to move in there before the winter,” he said.
In a related matter, DeFrancia said he expects the Base Village foreclosure sale to proceed as scheduled on Sept. 7. The event already has been postponed six times.