New restaurateur for Rio Grande building could be chosen by fall |

New restaurateur for Rio Grande building could be chosen by fall

City of Aspen’s capital asset workplan prioritizes filling restaurant space by Rio Grande Park

The city of Aspen is seeking a new restaurant operator in the old Taster's Pizza space by Rio Grande Park.
Carolyn Sackariason/The Aspen Times

Whoever takes over the vacant restaurant space in the city of Aspen’s Rio Grande building will likely be chosen by the fall.

That’s the timeline that Rob Schober, the city’s capital asset director, has committed to Aspen City Council in a work plan that he shared with elected officials in a memo on Thursday.

The goal is to publish a request for proposals on Bidnet, a platform government agencies use to seek bidders on projects and contracts.

“This would allow time to solicit responses and evaluate potential operators with an award in the fall of 2022,” Schober wrote in his memo as a follow-up to council direction in a June work session.

At that meeting, council requested that it be clear in the RFP language that potential operators are aware of the location near Rio Grande Park and how the restaurant ought to serve the teenage population.

Council also said the restaurant should be non-gourmet, family friendly and affordable for the working class and locals.

The asset department will draft an RFP and solicit responses with input from supporting departments, according to Schober.

The building has been vacant since 2019, when Taster’s Pizza occupied the space but moved out to make way for the building to be renovated for municipal offices.

Council also agreed in June that the lease term for a new operator be at least five years with a five-year option to renew so that it’s worth the investment to make tenant improvements to the space.

While the restaurant space is not move-in ready, the city invested in upgrading the electrical and ventilation system in anticipation of a new tenant.

However, the placement of additional features or amenities and construction of restrooms in the space will have to be done jointly with a future tenant as part of the contract process.

Meanwhile, to fill the void of an empty restaurant, the city has contracted with two food truck vendors that are set up in front of the old Taster’s space.

One serves Mexican fare and the other is an ice cream vendor. They will be operating through September.

Council’s second priority in the city’s capital asset work plan is renovating the Old Power House that is currently offices for some municipal departments and the Aspen Chamber Resort Association.

It’s unclear where ACRA will move during the renovation, but a possible location could be the old Armory Building on Galena Street, which was most recently used as City Hall.

The finance department will move funding forward with construction of the Power House building in the spring of 2023.

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