Transformer fix means losses for Aspen businesses |

Transformer fix means losses for Aspen businesses

Andre SalvailThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – It’s a bit hard to sell T-shirts when your customers can’t see them very well.The same goes for pizza slices.But businesses on the west side of the Hyman and Cooper avenue pedestrian malls were still able to make some sales Friday despite not having electricity due to a transformer repair project that went nearly four hours past its scheduled completion mark.”We stay open, but we’d rather have power,” said Earl Rodgers, co-owner of New York Pizza. “I just lost my lunch business.”A half-hour earlier, one of his employees, Trenton Allan, was able to make and sell a few pizza slices, as well as pour beer, despite limited visibility. He was using a headlamp to make his way around the pizza shop, and relied on a stiff breeze outside to provide ventilation through the windows and doors since there was no power to the pizza-oven vents.”They told us we were going to be rocking by 10. It’s 1:45 now,” said Allan, who entertained customers in the dark with stories about his recent trip to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. He even used his battery-operated iPad to provide background music inside the downtown Aspen eatery as he worked.Rodgers said he understands the need for patience during a necessary repair project. Still, he lamented the loss of customers given that it was the first day of Memorial Day weekend, a typically busy time.The project involved replacing lines inside a transformer attached to the Golden Horn building that houses Takah Sushi restaurant and other businesses on the Cooper Avenue mall, said Ron Christian, assistant superintendent of the city’s electric department. New York Pizza and other businesses on the Hyman Avenue mall also rely on the same transformer.Lassiter Electric performed the work, but the city was involved because it had to shut off the power to the transformer as the job was being done, Christian said.Christian said he had recommended that the company tackle the job in the middle of the night, but instead the work was scheduled for a four-hour period between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. Power was finally restored at 2:50 p.m. after affecting several businesses in a half-block area.”There were some flaws with the project,” Christian said. “There was a lack of communication between the electrician, or maybe the property manager, and the businesses. But it was kind of an emergency thing. It’s all good now.”Like New York Pizza, Aspen T-Shirt Co. faces the Hyman Avenue mall. Still, the business is connected to the transformer attached to the Golden Horn building on the other side of the alley behind the retail outlet, and remained open during the power outage.Lisa LeMay, area manager for Aspen T-Shirt Co., said it was better that the work was tackled Friday than on a busier weekend, such as the one before the Fourth of July.”It’s always a good idea to keep a few Coleman lanterns in the back room,” she said, pointing to some battery-operated lamps that provided a little light inside the store.”This could have happened on Food and Wine weekend – and then what do you do? We were able to do some business but it’s hard for people to shop in the dark. But it didn’t totally kill us.”

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