New Krabloonik owners formalize purchase

Jill Beathard
The Aspen Times
Gina and Danny Phillips, Krabloonik's directors of operations, signed papers Wednesday formalizing their purchase of the dog-sledding and restaurant business.
Aubree Dallas/Aspen Times |

Danny and Gina Phillips, who have been Krabloonik’s directors of operations for the past year, signed papers Wednesday to purchase the dog-sledding and restaurant operation after about two months of negotiations with founder Dan MacEachen.

Before completing the purchase, the Phillipses were waiting for the town, which is the business’ landlord, to reassign Krabloonik’s lease in their name. On Monday, the Town Council agreed to a temporary reassignment of the lease so the couple could move forward as owners this winter.

“We are very excited to begin operating and continuing to work towards the goal of becoming the forerunner in sled-dog care and holistic approaches for sled dogs,” Danny Phillips said Wednesday.

The council wants to further review the Phillipses’ qualifications and allow the public to comment in light of past controversy regarding MacEachen’s treatment of the animals. MacEachen was charged last year with eight counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty and will stand trial in May.

“They understand the risk they’re taking,” said Town Attorney John Dresser at the council meeting Monday. “It’s really up to them to prove to you that they are a qualified operator.”

The Phillipses have earned praise, even from some of Krabloonik’s biggest critics, for the changes they’ve enacted while managing the business. They plan to reduce the number of sled dogs needed in the long run and to create an adoption board immediately to help place some animals in homes, Danny Phillips said.

“There are many knowledgeable people and groups in this valley that can help with this process if the ability to work together in cooperation with one another for the greater good for the sled dogs is the focus,” he said. “There has been much negativity surrounding the sled dogs, and our wish is for like-minded people to come together now and see the sled dogs for who they are.”

The council will begin a public review of the permanent transfer of the lease in January.