Time will tell for new Red Onion | AspenTimes.com

Time will tell for new Red Onion

A fairly mundane but rather significant step was taken Tuesday in the bowels of Aspen City Hall.

The Aspen Liquor License Authority granted businessman Scott DeGraff permission to sell and serve booze at a restaurant he plans to open by the upcoming ski season.

At first blush, that’s hardly a hair-raising development, but when considering where DeGraff plans to do business, it is. DeGraff has signed a lease to run the space that housed The Red Onion for 115 years, until it closed in March 2007.

Enough tears have been shed about the demise of The Red Onion. It’s been history for more than a year now, and its closure was a cut-to-the-bone reminder that nothing lasts forever.

Even so, we are glad that DeGraff is taking over the spot and keeping it a restaurant, although it will be entirely different than The Red Onion. DeGraff said it will be called Junk at the Red Onion. We’re not crazy about the name, but it beats putting another handbag store there.

We hope DeGraff is sincere when he says he cares about the locals and plans to make Junk an all-inclusive place to eat and drink.

“The idea is to make it accessible to everyone,” DeGraff is quoted as saying in today’s newspaper.

Of course, only time will tell if DeGraff will deliver on his promise. Too many times we’ve seen new business owners come to town and make all types of promises and pledges, only to fold a year or two later and head west of the roundabout with their tails tucked between their legs.

To DeGraff’s credit, however, he has bought a home here, he sends his children to school here, and he’s calling Aspen his permanent residence.

Junk at the Red Onion sounds like a good idea. Its menu, which will include offerings such as hamburgers and omelets, also sounds good to us.

But make no mistake, the old Red Onion is a tough act to follow. DeGraff appears to understand that. And we hope he delivers on his promise to preserve some of the old Red Onion at his new restaurant. A nod to the past might go a long way toward restoring locals’ faith in a downtown that is becoming increasingly exclusive.

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