The Cantina holds fast while others say adios
At least one familiar restaurant will be sticking around Aspen for a few years.The owners of the Cantina renewed its lease recently that will keep the popular watering hole and Mexican eatery around for at least another five years, confirmed restaurant co-owner Darren Chapple.The Cantina’s extension comes at a time when several other longtime establishments are folding in Aspen. La Cocina and the Mother Lode closed for good earlier this year. Cooper St. Pier’s days are numbered because of the sale of its building. The space where the Wienerstube restaurant is located is due for redevelopment.Although the Wienerstube is preparing to open another restaurant in Basalt, the owner insists he will remain in Aspen once the site there is redeveloped. Real estate specialists aren’t as sure that will happen based on the likely rents after the sale and redevelopment.The Cantina is guaranteed to be around into 2010. It’s already been around for about 20 years.Chapple and Troy Selby bought into the Cantina after it was put on the market two years ago. They became partners with Joe Cosniac, and overhauled the menu with more authentic Mexican food and traditional Southern California fare.The success of the reinvigorated restaurant gave them the confidence to renew the lease for five years, said Chapple.Coldwell Banker Commercial Fleisher Co. “successfully negotiated a new market-rate lease” on behalf of an out-of-state limited liability company that’s owned the building for about 10 years, according to Mark Wyman. He is managing partner of Fleisher Co.’s Aspen and Snowmass Village operations. The old lease was going to expire at the end of August, and the new deal was inked earlier that month.Wyman said the Cantina’s location at the intersection of Mill and Main streets is one of the prime spaces in Aspen. It’s also one of the biggest, at 6,000 square feet, and has great visibility during summers because of all its outdoor seating.Wyman said the spat of closures in the restaurant business recently has had little to do with their business operations or even the cost of doing business in Aspen.”A lot of the disappearance of the old-time places is more of a comment on the real estate,” he said.Simply put, Wyman said, the value of the Mother Lode and La Cocina land “dwarfs” what the restaurant operations could pull in. The restaurant owners, who also owned the buildings, resisted offers for some time but both eventually sold. Both restaurants were located in one-story structures that will be redeveloped with multiple floors.The Cantina’s scenario was different from those other restaurants. It is located in a newer building that already has commercial development in the upper levels.”It will be a long time before that building is ripe for redevelopment,” Wyman said.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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