Fire inside Aspen Popcorn Wagon will delay opening for newest venture
Just hours away from opening for a few weeks, a small fire broke out Friday afternoon inside the historic Popcorn Wagon in downtown Aspen, but it was quickly contained.
The cause of the fire was an electric fryer just inside the door to the wagon, said Ryan Chadwick, who is the owner of Mr. Grey Aspen next door and was going to open up the wagon Friday night for a test run.
“I was literally running to the bank to get money to open tonight and came back to this,” Chadwick said Friday night as he and his crew were cleaning up the mess from the fire extinguisher used to douse the flames.
He said the fryer caught fire somehow and they were able to get it put out and throw it outside of the wagon. No one was injured and there is no major damage to the wagon. The Aspen Fire Department was on scene and helped contain the incident.
The fire started just after 4 p.m. and flames could be seen near the entrance of the wagon, which is parked across from the Wheeler Opera House where Hyman Avenue turns to the north and becomes Mill Street.
Chadwick still plans to open the wagon this weekend and will serve hot dogs and brats and other simple food. He said the wagon was going to sit empty so he worked out a deal with to have a pop-up stand.
The wagon has a historical designation from the city and is currently owned by developer Mark Hunt. The most recent tenant was a group called Big Munchies, which served hamburgers, doughnuts and other snack items over the summer. The Popcorn Wagon has been shuttered since then.
The wagon in its current form has been an Aspen icon since the 1960s. It was originally built in 1913 but remodeled as a replica more than a decade ago. The fare served there has gone through numerous iterations. At one point the wagon sat on the corner where Paradise Bakery is currently, but was moved to the Hyman Avenue and Mill Street location a few decades ago.
Across the Roaring Fork School District, three schools achieved higher ratings from 2019 to 2022, two schools had lower ratings during that time period and most remained the same.