Live music venue to open in Snowmass | AspenTimes.com

Live music venue to open in Snowmass

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun

After 18 months, the space that was home to the beloved Mountain Dragon restaurant in Snowmass will once again be occupied.

Tim Lucca, owner of a music-production company and a well-known Aspen-area bartender, has signed a lease with Related Colorado to open a live-music bar in the Snowmass Village Mall space, tentatively opening Dec. 15. Like his production company, the bar will be called Turks, and Lucca plans to have live music every day during apres and late-night hours.

For Lucca, who many may remember for opening the Grottos, a live-music lounge in Aspen, and for running the Blue Door in Snowmass Village in the mid-2000s, this is a dream come true.

"This is an opportunity for me to do what I do," Lucca said. "I'm so excited. To me, it's like I won the lottery."

The space, which housed the Mountain Dragon for more than 30 years, has sat empty since the end of the 2013-14 ski season when owner Douglas "Merc" Mercatoris decided to retire and close the restaurant. At one point, Related Colorado had been courting the Westin Snowmass about leasing the space, but those negotiations never materialized.

"Tim is a longtime local that has run successful (food and beverage) operations," said Matt Foley, who manages Related Colorado's commercial leasing. "He used to operate the popular Blue Door at the Silvertree Hotel. We think a bar and nightlife venue will be a great offering for Snowmass Village."

Recommended Stories For You

Most of the remodeling Lucca has planned involves opening up the 3,875-square-foot space. The walls with arched windows that separated sections of the Mountain Dragon's dining area are being taken out, and a stage will be set up in the opposite corner of the space, with an open dance floor right in front of it. Seating will be tiered so that patrons always have a good view.

"Everything's about that stage," Lucca said.

Chef Will Nolan has signed on to cater food at the bar, which also will have the ability through ZG Hospitality to serve patrons food from nearby Snowmass restaurants. To meet state laws requiring licensed establishments to serve food at all times, Turks will have hot, cold and frozen items available at all hours of business, Lucca said.

Turks will offer live music from local or touring musicians every day during apres hours. During the hours from 9 p.m. to close, Turks will have a different theme every night, including national touring acts that Lucca has worked with through his production company, a ladies' night, a Grateful Dead theme party and karaoke.

In between, he plans to invite local businesses and groups to have parties, enjoy some of Nolan's food and keep the excitement going into the nighttime hours. There should be a little something for everyone, Lucca said.

"Anyone that walks in this bar, they're going to feel at home," he said.

Lucca has received a lot of support from Mike Mercatoris, nephew of Merc and owner of ZG Hospitality. Mercatoris helped study Turks' projections and work out details of Lucca's lease, and ZG is continuing to help him on a consultant basis, Lucca said.

Lucca had a lot of thanks to share for both Mercatorises, Related Colorado and the Woody Creek Tavern, which he said has been supportive of the venture and where he is still taking bartending shifts.

"Me leaving the Tavern is the hardest thing," Lucca said. "They have been amazing."

jill@snowmasssun.com