Some signs of encouragement |

Some signs of encouragement

The last year or so has been fraught with bad news for Aspen, especially on the economic front. So it was a true pleasure to publish two good-news economic stories in the last week and a half.

One such story, in today’s paper, concerns the long-vacant Red Onion space on the Cooper Avenue Mall, which will be occupied by new proprietors before the busy summer season.

The other good-news item, published Feb. 2, concerned the corner of Hopkins Avenue and Galena Street, where the popular Zele coffee shop closed nearly a year ago.

Having these two high-profile locations rendered lifeless for so long represented more than just a loss of two well-liked local institutions; it also has been a depressing reminder of Aspen’s economic woes, and a pair of conspicuous eyesores for visitors.

Now, after nearly three years of quiet, the venerable Red Onion space will be reanimated with a restaurant-bar led by a team with a history of local success. Thomas Colosi, owner and chef at the Blue Maize for some 12 years, and his sister Jennifer say they plan to keep the new Red Onion (yes, they’re keeping the name) affordable for locals, but anyone who ate at Blue Maize knows to expect some creative cuisine as well.

Similarly, the former Zele space will be occupied soon by Peach’s Corner Cafe, operated by David Roth, Lisa Haisfield and Tracy Eggleston. Peach’s will start as a breakfast-lunch place offering affordable, locals-friendly fare, but may expand into the evening hours if there is demand. Perhaps most important from a civic standpoint is that locals will regain a vital gathering place, and one of Aspen’s sunniest and most popular street corners will have a chance at new life.

Obviously, the signing of new leases in these two downtown locations does not equate to the end of the recession, but together they do form an encouraging sign, from both the economic and social points of view.

We encourage locals and tourists alike to support these new businesses, and we congratulate both the landowners and the tenants on reaching an agreement.

Peach’s is expected to open at the beginning of March. The Red Onion won’t open until mid-May, but in the meantime the public is invited to visit and post Onion-related memories, suggestions and other thoughts.

Cheers, Aspen!

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