Trustee looks at auctioning off Aspen Kitchen’s assets |

Trustee looks at auctioning off Aspen Kitchen’s assets

The trustee in charge of Aspen Kitchen’s finances issued a report Monday saying the bankrupt restaurant’s assets potentially will be sold at auction.

Michael L. Staheli’s status report, introduced to the restaurant’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case in Denver, provided details on why he decided to shut it down Thursday.

As the court-appointed trustee, Staheli is charged with making financial decisions for the restaurant. Staheli’s status report noted he decided to close the restaurant after its head chef resigned Wednesday.

“Thereafter, the trustee determined that the continued operation of the debtor’s restaurant was not feasible due to the general lack of operational management and because of continued loss,” the report said. “As such, the trustee closed the restaurant on (Thursday).”

Staheli, who visited the restaurant in early August, also wrote that he is “exploring a potential sale” of the restaurant’s assets through an auction and is currently seeking bids.

All of the employees of Aspen Kitchen and the downstairs bar, the Rec Room, were terminated as part of the closure, Staheli’s report said. Nearly 80 people were staffed at one time by the two businesses. All perishable food was removed from the premises, while wine, liquor and other assets have been secured, he wrote.

“At this time, the trustee believes that selling the assets of the debtor is in the best interest of the debtor’s creditors and the estate and is working towards effectuating such a sale,” he wrote.

The public-relations firm handling media inquiries for Aspen Kitchen during its bankruptcy told The Aspen Times last week the restaurant would reopen for the ski season and the closure is temporary.

That same position was maintained Monday.

“The decision to reopen the restaurant will be made by the Chapter 11 trustee,” said Juliana Pesavento of Wagstaff Worldwide, the public-relations firm for New York-based Craveable Hospitality Group, which manages Aspen Kitchen and Rec Room. “As far as we know, it is his intent to reopen the restaurant for ski season.”

Denver attorney David Miller, who represents Aspen Kitchen, which declared bankruptcy under the name Rocky Aspen LLC, could not be reached Monday.

Rocky Aspen sought bankruptcy protection in March, listing between $1 million and $10 million in debts. The combined monthly rent for the upscale restaurant and ’70s-style lounge was more than $84,000, according to bankruptcy documents.

Aspen Kitchen opened to much hoopla in December, in part because it had been associated at one time with celebrity chef David Burke. It originally was called David Burke Kitchen, but the chef’s name was removed from the moniker in October 2015 after a business fallout.

The restaurant originally was scheduled to open in May 2014. But an onslaught of billing disputes with contractors and an eviction lawsuit by Mark Hunt, who redeveloped the property at the corner of East Hopkins Avenue and Galena Street where the Aspen Kitchen was on the top floor, led to Burke’s resignation from the David Burke Group in 2014. Even so, he remained an equity shareholder with the group. The litigation among Aspen Kitchen, its contractors and Hunt was settled in August 2015.

Hunt could not be reached Monday to discuss the status of both Aspen Kitchen and Rec Room.

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