Longtime local found dead at his midvalley residence | AspenTimes.com

Longtime local found dead at his midvalley residence

The former owner of a popular Aspen restaurant was found dead Friday in his residence in the Fryingpan Valley, according to friends and authorities.

Pat Richards, 56, was found dead at 11 a.m. of what appeared to be natural causes, according to Dan Sparkman, the primary coroner for the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County.

Friends of Richards went to his residence Friday to check on his welfare after he hadn’t been seen for a few days, according to Eagle County Deputy Sheriff Tim Comroe. It appeared that Richards had been dead for some time, Comroe said.

Richards came to Aspen in the 1960s from California and built the Village Pantry into a popular breakfast and lunch place in the 1970s and ’80s, according to his longtime friend, Art Rowell, shop manager at Frying Pan Anglers in Basalt. The Village Pantry thrived at several locations around Aspen.

“It was known as the best breakfast place in town,” Rowell said.

“They had the best corned beef hash in the country,” said Basalt Police Chief Keith Ikeda, who knew Richards and frequented his eatery when he worked in Aspen. “It was the breakfast spot.”

Richards was an avid fisherman and Rowell’s assistant shop manager at Frying Pan Anglers. Richards was also a good chef and worked at a variety of places like the Roaring Fork Club in recent years, friends said.

Rowell said Richards was “a typical chef” and could occasionally be crusty and curmudgeonly. But he was also the type of man who would do anything for his friends and was always a straight shooter.

“He knew thousands of people,” Rowell said.

He said he was sure there will be a memorial service for Richards at some point, although friends were dealing with their grief Friday and no plans have been made yet.

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