No nightclub to replace the Wolf | AspenTimes.com
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No nightclub to replace the Wolf

Tim Mutrie

While the Howling Wolf remains padlocked, pending the piece-by-piece sale of its contents, the owner of the premises hopes to see a new establishment occupying the space shortly.

Bill Bidwell, landlord of the building that houses the now-defunct nightclub, said Sunday he has met with a local group of investors – Patrick Hibler and Thomas and Julie Logan – about leasing them the garden-level space at 424 E. Cooper Ave. As of yesterday afternoon, however, nothing had been finalized.

But whatever replaces the Wolf, it won’t be another nightclub, Bidwell stressed.

In the meantime, a public auction ordered by the Colorado Department of Revenue is scheduled to proceed Thursday at 11 a.m. Everything presently sealed within the seized confines of the restaurant/nightclub will be sold to pay off nearly $12,000 owed in state and local taxes. The agency locked up the Wolf and seized its material assets on April 7.

Goods that will be on the auction block include more than a dozen pieces of sound and lighting equipment, a plethora of kitchen and refrigeration items, and other miscellaneous furniture and related items.

Further complicating matters for Wolf owners Rob and Steve Murdock, who could not be reached for comment Sunday, are two lawsuits filed against them last week. Bidwell’s company and George Stranahan filed separate lawsuits against the brothers, claiming the two owe them a combined $200,000 in outstanding debts related to the Wolf’s operation.

Stranahan owned the former Flying Dog Brew Pub, which previously occupied the space.

The Wolf reportedly has not yet contacted the Colorado Department of Revenue regarding its debts to the agency, and no payments have been made, officials said.

Whatever establishment takes over the Wolf’s space, it will not be another “Wolf,” Bidwell declared yesterday.

“The intention from day one was never to have that place as a bar – we never wanted it to be a nightclub,” Bidwell said. “My intention from the very first day that I spoke to anybody about it, including those involved with the Wolf, was that it would derive primary revenues from serving food.”

“The plan was that [the Wolf] would continue to operate an establishment similar to what George Stranahan was doing there. Entertainment was permissible, but not the focus … I do not want anything where the majority of the activities are entertainment-related.”

Until the auction takes place, Bidwell will not be able to get into the building to assess what needs to be done before the space can be leased again, he said. It’s plausible that a new tenant may be able to begin operation there in late spring or early summer, he said.

The Wolf has been on the brink of extinction before, narrowly escaping the clutches of state tax collectors in 1996.

That fall, the Wolf – then under different ownership – was locked up per order of the Colorado Department of Revenue for nonpayment of more than $4,000 in taxes. On the morning of Oct. 1 – with the auctioneer poised to begin selling seized items strewn about outside the Wolf’s former quarters on Hopkins Avenue – $4,260 in cash was produced for the state, forcing cancellation of the auction and allowing continued operation of the Wolf.

That time, the Double Diamond held a weekend of benefit concerts, with much of the proceeds going to help the embattled Howling Wolf.


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