Owners closing popular Basalt eatery | AspenTimes.com

Owners closing popular Basalt eatery

John Colson

A popular Basalt eatery, Primavera at the Frying Pan, will close at the end of September, when longtime owners Rudy and Gina Bender finish more than four decades in the hospitality business.But before the end of the year, possibly by Thanksgiving, new owner Javier Gonzales-Bringas said, he will be reopening the restaurant under a new name and with a new kind of cuisine.”It will be Mediterranean,” said Gonzales-Bringas, “a blend of Spanish and Italian,” and after years of serving only dinners, the restaurant will be open for lunch as well.Gonzales-Bringas said he paid $2.4 million for the business in a sale that closed on Sept. 14 at the Mason & Morse real estate office in Basalt. The broker who handled the deal, Bleu L’Estrange, said afterward that the price might be considered high if it had just been the restaurant business, but was a good deal considering that the property went with it.”It’s really the last available developable parcel in downtown Basalt,” L’Estrange said.”As for going in there and paying that for just a restaurant,” he said with a chuckle and a pause, “it’s the redevelopment assets of the property” that create the value.Gonzales-Bringas, who with his wife, Laura, also owns the Rock Creek Grille at River Valley Ranch in Carbondale, said the couple will continue to operate both restaurants “for the moment.” He recently sold another restaurant, Mambo Italiano, also in Carbondale.At the Basalt location, which will close Sept. 24, Gonzales-Bringas plans to remodel the interior spaces, expanding the bar and making changes to “open up … be able to communicate between the bar and the dining room.”In the future, possibly next year, he said he might add outdoor dining.But for now, he said, “I think we try to open before Thanksgiving,” in the historic Midland Avenue building.The Benders, who are in the process of becoming U.S. citizens, say they have no plans to return to Germany, but are looking forward to retiring from the restaurant trade.”It was just time,” Rudy, said noting that he is recovering from surgery and could use a rest. “It’s time to do something else.”He said he started in the business 44 years ago when he was 14, in Germany. Gina said the couple has run the Primavera for the past 20 years.Both the restaurant and the Alpine Bank building next door are historically designated, built in the late 1800s when Basalt was known as Aspen Junction. The bank building was the depot for the Colorado Midland Railroad, and the restaurant was a saloon on the ground floor and a bordello on the upper floor, according to local lore.John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com