Howling Wolf `fighting to stay alive’ |

Howling Wolf `fighting to stay alive’

Rumors of the Howling Wolf’s demise are greatly exaggerated, according to an owner of one of Aspen’s most popular nightclubs.

“We’re fighting to stay alive, just like everybody else,” said Steve Murdock, who, with his brother, Rob, owns the Aspen Madmen Inc. holding company that operates the nightclub.

The Wolf moved into its new location, the former Flying Dog Brew Pub at the corner of the Cooper Avenue Mall and Galena Street, last summer. It operated throughout the summer and much of the fall as a combination nightclub and restaurant.

Although the Wolf continued to sell beer made with the Flying Dog brewing equipment for a while, negotiations with the brewing company broke down and the equipment was sold off and moved out.

“We had a fairly profitable summer,” said Murdock. “We got wiped out with [the Aspen Harmony Festival held last August], as usual.” The Harmony Festival, while immensely popular with local and regional music lovers, has yet to turn a profit, according to sources close to the organization.

Plus, Murdock said, “It’s been a very up and down off-season.”

The result, he admitted, is that “we’re behind on our bills with almost everybody … We have to get into the season again, and start making some money so we can pay our bills.”

The nightclub has been open weekend nights, he said, to put on music shows, and the plan is to reopen the restaurant soon.

Asked if he plans to sell the club, or bring in new ownership interests, Murdock said, “Well, I’m always interested. It’s not officially on the market, though.”

According to the city clerk’s office, the Wolf is current with all its fees, registration requirements and building permits. That includes a Nov. 13 check for more than $3,000 to pay off the balance of the club’s lease on space along the Cooper Avenue Mall and certification that the managers are properly registered and the bartenders have been through the TIPS liquor servers’ awareness training.

City building officials said they have not received any formal application from the Howling Wolf’s management concerning plans to renovate the space where the brewing equipment once stood. Club spokesmen have said in the past that they hope to expand the club into the brewmeister’s old rooms.

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