Paradise Bakery to remain in its original location in downtown Aspen
After a year of speculation about a new home or if they would close completely, the owner of Paradise Bakery said late Monday the iconic Aspen bakery will stay in its current location.
The bakery on the corner of Galena Street and Cooper Avenue in the Volk Plaza has been a downtown gathering place for locals, tourists and others since it opened there in 1981.
In May 2019, The Aspen Times first reported of the potential change after bakery owners Mark and Danny Patterson and their landlord, the Hecht family, could not come up with a new lease and that neighboring tenant Loro Piana, a high-end clothing company based in Italy, would expand into the bakery spot.
In an email Monday evening, Mark Patterson said the three groups involved in the potential change — the landlords, Loro Piana and Paradise Bakery — had come to an agreement during the late winter to keep the location the same.
Claudia Cividino was named about a year ago as the North America CEO of the Luxury Division at Loro Piana. She inherited the deal and said Tuesday she was concerned and set out to “undo it.”
Cividino has been to Aspen plenty of times and has made her way to the Paradise Bakery on a few of those trips.
“I knew right away it was a misstep,” she said. “I contacted Mark and Danny. … It was so obvious to me that this is what needed to be done.”
She came to Aspen in December to meet the Pattersons, they all “had a good long talk.” Mark Patterson said Tuesday it was a good fireside meeting and she “was a very nice lady.”
“I’m so happy we were able to come to a resolution and also with the partnership of the Hechts,” Cividino said. Later adding, “We could use the extra space, however, our need for extra space did not validate what it would mean.”
The current lease is not set to expire until October 2021, Patterson told The Times last year. Patterson said the outpouring of support after the 2019 announcement led them to look for a new place.
In the past year, Patterson said he was in talks with local developer Mark Hunt about moving into one of his properties in the downtown area that had outdoor seating.
“We are extremely grateful to the Hechts and Mark Hunt for their flexibility and support in this process,” Patterson said in a statement sent Monday. “This was a great example of two property owners working behind the scenes to make things work for a tenant and for the community.”
Given the current pandemic and the economic crisis, moving locations became a bigger question for all involved, Patterson said Monday. He also said that some of the responses to the potential move “crossed the line to becoming negative and hurtful to our landlord and neighbors.”
Roughly 250,000 to 300,000 customers visit the bakery on an annual basis, Patterson said last year, adding the bakery pays about $250,000 in annual rent. Paradise occupies roughly 1,600 square feet of the space in the Volk Plaza — 600 on the ground level and 1,000 below ground.
The bakery has employed thousands of workers in Aspen since 1981, Patterson said, and also has participated in youth programs at the Aspen schools that give students experience in the workplace.
Patterson said Monday they were glad to be able to work out an agreement to stay in the current location and will ride out the economic storm caused by the pandemic.
“With the uncertainty regarding the return of summer tourist business, we are moving forward cautiously,” he said in a statement. “It is our hope that the future recovery of the Aspen economy will allow us to realize this opportunity to remain on the Paradise Corner for years to come.”
The Patterson brothers and the late Carter Holmes opened the bakery as Cookie Munchers Paradise, next to the old Sinclair gas station, on New Year’s Eve in 1981. The Pattersons and partner Bob Duggan originally founded the bakery in 1976 in Long Beach, California.
The Paradise Bakery chain grew to 75 stores in 11 states. The Pattersons sold the Paradise Bakery & Cafe Inc. chain in 2007 to Missouri-based Panera Bread Co., but the brothers kept the Aspen store.
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One of downtown Aspen’s oldest restaurants and a local’s favorite will close for good on Nov. 5, according to social media posts.