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Golden Horn to play again

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The buzz is already all over town: The Golden Horn restaurant is coming back to its historic location near Wagner Park.

Or a version of it, at least, is returning.

Owners of the restaurant that was most recently Cabo’s have decided to bring back the Golden Horn concept, which dates to 1949. The space is near the fountain on the mall.

Cabo’s co-owner Karl Knight said that after more than 20 years in the restaurant business, he and partners Greg Owen and Sally Carr decided to listen when locals kept recommending that they bring back the beloved Golden Horn.

“After I heard that about 35 times, I knew that we have a great location with beautiful signs and we should do this instead of being one of five local Mexican restaurants,” Knight said.

Remnants from the building’s past are still featured – including an old neon sign on the side of the building facing the park and a north-facing, lighted yellow sign on the building’s second floor.

Both signs will probably be used because of their historical value, Knight said. But he said he and his partners aren’t going to try to fill the historic restaurant’s shoes.

“We will be very different, and we’ll feature a more European/continental menu,” he said. “We want to focus on food that families can easily afford – good food and excellent service. [It will be] the sort of place you can come and hang out after getting off work, and a pint of beer here will be $3.25, compared to $4.50 in other places.”

Knight said the restaurant will probably offer an abbreviated late-night menu, as well as live music on Fridays and Saturdays, open mic Thursdays and karaoke Wednesdays.

The restaurant could be back open in six weeks, and Knight is going to meet with HeritageAspen to learn about the Golden Horn of long ago.

The original Golden Horn opened in 1949, started up by Steve Knowlton, a former 10th Mountain Division skier and World War II veteran. Having moved to Aspen in 1945, Knowlton bought the Golden Horn corner for $1,000 and moved a cabin onto the lot, according to an Aspen Times article from 1979.

Knowlton opened a ski shop on the first floor, and in the basement was the bar and restaurant. According to Aspen historian Mary Eshbaugh Hayes, at the time the Red Onion was closed, so the Golden Horn became the place for ski bums to go after a day on the slopes.

“Fritz and Fabi Benedict, the T-Lazy 7 people … everyone went there, and they had a band so you could dance,” Hayes said.

The downstairs bar and restaurant featured a fireplace and “conversation pit” that are still in place today. Knowlton told the Times in 1979 that the early years were rough – he made good money in the winter, would try to get through the summer and was broke during the off-season.

Knowlton sold the restaurant to Peter Greene in 1958, who moved the restaurant up to the ground floor. In 1962, Austrian Hubert Erhard featured authentic Austrian cooking. Hayes waitressed there, wearing a dirndl, from 1962 to 1964.

“It was always a very elegant place,” she said. “Hubert would fix dinner for the staff before work, and it was always so good.”

Klaus Christ bought the restaurant in 1972 and moved it back down to the basement. Erhard had opened the Golden Horn East in Vermont, but Christ closed the restaurant for good in 1996.

Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@

aspentimes.com


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