New bistro on Hopkins | AspenTimes.com

New bistro on Hopkins

Genre Bistro, a new French restaurant, is slated to open in the former Harry?s Velvet Room on Hopkins Avenue this December.

Local residents Vince Lahey and Craig Hart, both currently with Campo de Fiori, are behind the venture. Lahey said Thursday that he expects to sign the lease for the building today.

?Aspen is not dead,? he declared yesterday. ?We?re in a revival right now. We hope to be part of that revival.?

To that end, the business partners have plans for a midpriced, approachable French bistro where Harry?s, a martini bar opened by a Chicago owner, folded earlier this year. The space at 316 E. Hopkins Ave. is best remembered as the first locale of the long-gone Howling Wolf restaurant and nightclub.

Genre will be a ?sexy, fun, high-energy? place, according to Lahey, who might be best known as the ?top of the mountain guy? offering the snow report on Channel 16. He is also a waiter at Campo. Hart, a tandem paragliding pilot, is a Campo waiter, as well, and former manager at the Italian restaurant.

Lahey will be the headwaiter at Genre, and Hart will be the manager. A French-trained, local chef is also on board, but Lahey is keeping the chef?s identity a secret.

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?It?s going to be a restaurant opened by locals, for locals,? said Lahey, promising an ?approachable, friendly? menu. ?Just because it?s French, it won?t be expensive,? he said.

Elsewhere in downtown Aspen, the off-season business shuffle is in full swing as the commercial core reinvents itself before the ski season.

All that?s left of Masterpieces, which briefly specialized in rare art and antiquities on the Hyman Avenue Mall, is the sign out front. Also gone is the Christopher Cardozo gallery. Nearby, the historic restoration of the long-vacant Kobey building continues behind a temporary wooden facade.

Across the street, night spot Club Chelsea has closed. A block away, on the Cooper Avenue Mall, the restaurant/nightclub NXT has also shut its doors, but its owners have indicated they’d like to operate the nightclub elsewhere. Hmmm.

On the corner of Hyman and Galena Street, the former Aspen Drug space remains empty, awaiting its anticipated new occupant, a real estate office.

The former Guido?s restaurant, above Manrico Cashmere on the Cooper Avenue Mall, is undergoing renovation. Italian-based Manrico is turning Guido?s into Umbria, an Italian restaurant it plans to open next spring.

On the other end of the mall, the North Face Summit Shop has left one storefront and opened across the street, where it has more space and light. Noori?s Collection, an Oriental rug shop around the corner from the old North Face store, is expanding into the vacated space and will soon leave its temporary quarters on the Hyman Avenue Mall.

An empty gallery and a space once occupied by a purveyor of fine linens await new tenants elsewhere on the Cooper Avenue Mall.

Down the street, the space vacated by Charcuterie in the Aspen Square Hotel building finally has a taker ? Poppycock’s, the restaurant four doors down in the same building. The breakfast/lunch spot is seeking a cheaper lease with the smaller space. Elsewhere in the Aspen Square strip, McHugh Antiques is coming soon, according to a sign in a window.

?Janet Urquhart