Hickory House staves off reaper; no such luck for bear | AspenTimes.com

Hickory House staves off reaper; no such luck for bear

Steve Benson

A late-night rescue mission by the Hickory House staff Thursday prevented the eatery from closing its doors for the weekend as the outdoor smoker damaged by a bear was repaired with temporary parts. According to Hickory House manager Joe Armani, the smoker was repaired by midnight Thursday and kitchen staff arrived at about 3 a.m. to begin smoking the meats for business Friday.Tuesday night, a bear nearly destroyed the smoker, and owner Paul Dioguardi feared the restaurant would have to temporarily shut its doors. The bear, or bears, had repeatedly attacked the restaurant throughout the summer, including overturning trash bins and damaging the restaurant’s delivery truck.Earlier this month, the animals focused on the smoker, consuming an average of $500 worth of meat a night. Efforts to keep the bears away, including a pepper-spray trap, ammonia and plywood, all failed.Colorado Division of Wildlife officers caught and killed the culprit Thursday. The 250-pound bear had previously been tagged and relocated.At that point, the restaurant focused on repairing the smoker.”If I can’t get it fixed, I can’t cook what we’re famous for,” Dioguardi said last week.He said replacing the smoker would cost about $30,000.Armani said replacement parts, which cost about $5,000, arrived Thursday. He said the bear caused $20,000 in damage, including the delivery truck, lost food and the smoker.The restaurant is considering hiring a welder to construct a bear-proof device on the smoker before next summer.As for the killed bear, Armani said something had to be done.”Obviously no one wants to see them get killed, but we also have to be worried about our safety and our [business],” he said.Dioguardi had previously criticized the division of wildlife for not doing enough to protect the restaurant and catch the bear, but Armani said the relationship quickly improved.”Ever since stuff was published they’ve been very helpful,” he said.Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com


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