Starlight, Star Bright |

Starlight, Star Bright

May Eynon

The Sundeck Restaurant atop Aspen Mountain has revived its popular Starlight Dinners predicated upon the success of last winter. The Skico introduced the evening events a couple of years ago as a monthly occasion, but decided to increase the frequency to every Friday this season.

To access the 11,200-foot-high restaurant at night, guests can ride the gondola starting at 5:30 p.m., skin up the front of the mountain on skis or even snowmobile in from the backside. With dinner served until 9 p.m., the newly remodeled bar open for business, and a different entertainer performing each week, it’s little wonder that Starlight Evenings have been so well-received.

On Friday, Jan. 9, local jam-band LIME played to a full house. “The Sundeck’s a great venue,” said vocalist/guitarist Eli Madden. “Feels like the top of the world.”

LIME attracted a mostly local crowd, drawing friends, families and co-workers to the Sundeck. “Tonight has really felt like a locals’ night,” said restaurant manager Keith Gilchrist. “Usually we’re split down the middle as far as the number of tourists and locals that come to these events, but I’d say tonight is different.”

About a dozen physical therapists from Aspen Valley Hospital opted for the on-mountain entertainment, spending dinner together at the Sundeck. “Coming up here is great. It gets us away from the workplace and we have a lot of fun,” explained therapist Jan Arnold.

Former Ajax liftie Anna Redwood and friends dined and danced at the Sundeck on the eve of her departure. After four years of living in Aspen, Redwood prepared for her return to New Zealand by celebrating atop the mountain.

“I’m having a good time, but I should really be home packing,” she admitted.

Several members of a longtime Friday Afternoon Club (FAC) also chose to spend an evening at the Sundeck. For the past 15 years, the group has maintained a weekly tradition of playing cards, skiing under the stars, snowmobiling in the backcountry or just hanging out together. Though they have no dues, no office and no formal structure, they are committed to their weekly ritual. “Anywhere from five to 40 of us show up every Friday,” explained Grant Timroth. “It’s nice to see the Skico understands FACs are still popular and have responded with on-mountain entertainment like this.”

With the remodel to the restaurant this past summer, the Sundeck has a more open feel and can accommodate a greater number of dining room guests. “We added 11,076 square feet to the restaurant with the remodel,” said Sundeck engineer Peter Olsen. “It’s definitely a much better use of space.”

Starlight Evenings continue every Friday night through March 26. Gondola rides begin at 5:30 p.m. with downloading service until 9:30 p.m. No reservations are required. For more information, call 429-6974.