Tippler set to start tipping ’em back | AspenTimes.com

Tippler set to start tipping ’em back

John Colson

The Tippler, one of Aspen’s more popular nightclubs until it was closed by arson in late August, may reopen soon, its owner confirmed Monday.

Then again, if some of the club’s neighbors have their way, it may never reopen again.

The Tippler, located at 535 E. Dean St. at the base of Aspen Mountain, had been one of Aspen’s longest-running night spots when it was burned by what police now say was an arsonist’s work. Because the case remains under investigation, police have declined to say if any suspects are being sought.

At the time of the fire, owner Sirous Saghatoleslami said he would not be reopening, since the property is due to be redeveloped into a combination of luxury townhomes and affordable housing.

But on Oct. 11, city records show, Saghatoleslami was granted a city permit to do $10,000 in remodeling work to the 4,500-square-foot club. The permit does not include the basement of the building, formerly the Italian Caviar, which also was damaged in the fire.

In addition, liquor and beer delivery vehicles have been seen at the back of the club, rolling hand carts stacked with cases through the back door.

Rumors have been circulating through town that Saghatoleslami was hoping to reopen tonight for Halloween.

But, Saghatoleslami said Monday evening, “that is a little too ambitious.” He said he does plan to reopen soon “if the neighbors will let us.”

He was not eager to discuss his plans further, but said he would be willing to talk more today after a meeting with the city’s building officials for what chief inspector Stephen Kanipe termed “a final inspection.”

The “neighbors” Saghatoleslami mentioned are part of a group of condo owners who surround the nightclub and have been battling with Saghatoleslami for years over everything from the rowdiness of his clientele to the clouds of cigarette smoke that roll out of his ventilation system.

Two of those neighbors, Phyllis Bronson and Jesse Boyce of the Tipple Inn condominiums, have filed complaints with the city’s environmental health department. Bronson said Monday that “our basic intention was to delay and stop the opening until we could conduct a true inspection” of the premises.

She said she, her husband and the condominium association have complained for some time about the cigarette smoke, smells from the club’s trash bin and other issues. But after the fire, she said, the fumes emanating from the basement became nearly intolerable.

She said they contacted Saghatoleslami about the matter, but “he said, `I don’t care.'”

So they went to the city, where they were told that there are no regulations that would allow city officials to prevent the club from reopening.

“So,” declared an exasperated Bronson, “in the year 2000 in Aspen, it’s okay to have a commercial establishment polluting a residential home? It really makes you feel like you need Ralph Nader.” Nader, who is running for the U.S. presidency this year, has been an anti-pollution crusader for decades.

Bronson said she and her husband have had to treat their home with “ozone” repeatedly in attempts to clear out the fumes.

City air-quality expert Lee Cassin acknowledged that the city’s regulations do not cover such situations. And while she expressed sympathy for Bronson’s problem, she said the city does not have the expertise or the equipment to conduct the kind of investigation that would be needed to determine if there are toxic fumes wafting out of the old Italian Caviar.

As for Saghatoleslami’s plans to reopen, she said her department’s inspections have shown that all is in order from a health standpoint.

Asked if patrons or neighbors have anything to be concerned about, Cassin said, “As far as we know, they don’t.”

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