Things get hairy at Aspen salon over rental space |

Things get hairy at Aspen salon over rental space

Charles Agar
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” A hairdresser and a butcher are in a scrap over a rental space in Aspen.

Last month, John Frye, owner of AMS Enterprises and The Butcher’s Block in Aspen, filed a lawsuit alleging that Erin Connolly, owner of Buzz Aspen, wouldn’t leave even though her lease is up.

Connolly, whose business is located above The Butcher’s Block, filed a counterclaim denying the charges, claiming she has a verbal agreement for a five-year lease and that Frye has harassed and threatened her.

“He did not want me in here,” Connolly said. “He chose not to sign the five-year lease that we had the handshake agreement on.”

Frye, through his company AMS Enterprises, has a lease for the entire property at 424 S. Spring St. dating back to 1989. Perry Pollock and William Randall own the building, according to the lease.

Frye uses the downstairs space to run The Butcher’s Block, and subleases the upstairs units.

Among his tenants was Harold Ulibarri, a hairdresser, who rented an upstairs unit, according to court papers. Frye later sublet the space to Connolly based on a verbal agreement, and when Ulibarri’s lease ran out at the end of April, Frye wanted Connolly to leave, according to the complaint.

Connolly pays $2,977 rent per month as well as $413 in fees, and Frye claims that Connolly is “unlawfully and wrongfully” in possession of the property.

In a countersuit filed May 27, Connolly, who has been in business at her salon since October 2007, maintains that she had an agreement with Frye for a five-year lease, which he didn’t honor.

Connolly sued Frye and his company, AMS Enterprises, as well as Aspen Snowmass Property Managers Inc.

She alleges that Frye is harassing her and threatening her clients, and by doing so, has damaged her business.

Connolly claims that Frye hung a “For Rent” sign on the property and said that Frye encouraged Connolly’s employees to “rent the salon from underneath her,” according to the countersuit.

Connolly is asking for damages and restitution.

“She tried to pay her rent, but he wouldn’t take it,” said Connolly’s attorney, Cindy Tester of Snowmass Village. “He says he doesn’t want to take it because he doesn’t like the look in her eyes.”

Tester plans to introduce testimony from a handful of witnesses who allegedly observed Frye using foul language and threatening Connolly.

“He literally ran off all her business,” Tester said.

Connolly said she was far too invested in the property to just leave.

“This is my livelihood,” Connolly said. “I just want a chance to make it here. … I love my salon.”

Tester had the dispute moved from county court to district court, claiming that damages against Connolly would exceed $10,000.

Frye, through his Aspen attorney, Thomas Smith, disputed the claim, saying that Connolly never specified what damages she was asking for and that there was no basis for a move to a higher court.

On May 28, Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely filed an order to move the dispute to district court.

Both Frye and Connolly are asking for a jury trial.

On Monday, it was business at usual at the upstairs salon and the downstairs butcher shop.

Neither Frye nor his attorney would comment on the case.