New music, apres spot opens next to Silver Queen Gondola
As locals and guests were winding down for the night Wednesday, another group of people were busy preparing for the opening of a new restaurant at the base of Aspen Mountain.
Decorated with vintage winter attire and a large antler chandelier, The Snow Lodge was receiving its finishing touches before opening to the public Thursday at noon.
A sister location to The Surf Lodge in Montauk, New York, the new apres spot in the old Shlomo’s space adjacent to the gondola plaza, aims to offer the perfect blend of food, music and culture for both guests and locals, according to lodge founder and creative director Jayma Cardoso.
“I’ve wanted to do apres-ski more than anything,” Cardoso said. “There are amazing restaurants in Aspen, but I feel there is room for more as far as programming of the overall evening.”
For Cardoso, the Aspen apres project was the fastest she’s seen to completion yet. Just under three weeks ago, she signed a roughly four-month lease with the building owner — leaving open an opportunity to extend if the lodge is successful — and has collaborated with various friends and locals to get The Snow Lodge open for the rest of the winter season.
“It’s crazy, I’ve never done a project this fast,” Cardoso said. “It’s really been a team effort … a lot of things have come together to get to this point and so many people have been incredible help. We’re really lucky.”
Robert Sieber, executive chef of the new lodge, and Sean Olnowich, culinary director, also have been busy collaborating with locals to get The Snow Lodge menu set for Thursday’s opening.
Sieber, who is moving to Aspen from the Montauk lodge permanently, and Olnowich said they’ve spent the past few weeks seeking advice from other restaurants and local vendors to hone in on the best locally sourced ingredients for the Aspen location.
“The first step was meeting some of the vendors and seeing what there was to offer,” Sieber said. “Things just sort of snowballed from there as we met more and more people who were willing to help us.”
The chefs said they’ve planned a meat- and-cheese-heavy menu for the opening weeks, relying on places like T-Lazy-7 Ranch, Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy and Louis Swiss Pastry for their ingredients, but hope to offer more vegan options as the season goes on.
“We’re both confident in the menu and the direction we’re going,” Olnowich said.
Olnowich, Sieber and Cardoso said they don’t exactly know what to expect, as they are new to the apres-ski scene, but that they feel they’ll see clientele similar to those they serve in Montauk. In fact, Cardoso said she’s had patrons hint to her for years that she should expand to Aspen.
But while she has years of experience running The Surf Lodge, Cardoso emphasized that The Snow Lodge will not fit to any pre-existing mold. Instead, Cardoso said her goal is to create a space for both locals and guests to gather and is excited to bring a new music and dining option to Aspen’s apres scene.
“We plan to ease in, embrace the community and work things out with our brand new team,” Cardoso said. “There’s no 100% guaranteed formula. It’s about where to find the soul and how to make this its own special place.”
Starting Thursday, The Snow Lodge will serve food inside from noon to 10 p.m.; outside until 6 p.m.; and the bar will be open until 2 a.m. The lodge also is partnering with Belly Up to offer live music.
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The Aspen Institute and some restaurant-industry heavyweights have rolled out a set of universal guidelines for both dining establishments and the people who frequent them in the COVID-19 era.