Willits welcomes new tenants
The Aspen Times
Starbucks is going to have diverse neighbors when it opens in Willits Town Center this summer. A “better burger” joint, a self-serve yogurt shop and a longtime local real estate office have confirmed their plans to open at the Parkside building — the latest addition to Willits.
Scott Picard is returning to his roots in the restaurant business to open Sure Thing Burgers, an acclaimed destination in Maui. Picard started his career as an entry-level worker at Gwyn’s High Alpine Restaurant at Snowmass Ski Area in the early 1980s. He worked his way through the ranks there, moved on to other restaurants and eventually founded Sure Thing in Hawaii. Sure Thing in Willits will be the first in the continental U.S.
Matt and Breckie Hunt will open Mauka Frozen Yogurt in the Parkside building. Breckie said it will be self-serve with 12 revolving flavors, with more possibilities when swirls are added in. It will be high-quality yogurt.
“It’s not a cheap powder mix,” she said.
Once customers serve themselves with yogurt, they will have a variety of toppings to select from, ranging from Gummy Bears to chocolates and granola.
“You create what you want,” Hunt said.
Customers will get their yogurt, add their toppings and then pay per ounce.
The Hunts recently moved to the Roaring Fork Valley from Hawaii. Their shop name, Mauka, translates to “toward the mountains” or “inland,” Hunt said. Their shop will reflect a feel of “rustic mountains meet tropical,” she said. They aim to open in early July.
Starbucks previously announced it would open a coffee shop with both drive-through and sit-down service in the Parkside building.
Joining the three food-oriented business is Coldwell Bank Mason Morse. The real estate company intends to open its new, ground-floor office in mid-June. The staff will include husband-and-wife team Rod and Sarah Woelfle, Roshni Slalii and Bob Jacobson, who recently joined the firm.
Mason Morse was located in Basalt’s old post-office space on Midland Avenue from 1998 to 2009. Prior to that, it was located at a different site on Basalt’s main street since 1991. It closed its Basalt office when the recession struck. Broker Rod Woelfle said in a statement that the midvalley real estate market “is showing signs of stabilizing” and that there is increased buyer activity.
Coldwell Bank Mason Morse managing broker John Wendt said the firm wanted to be located in Willits Town Center for its return to the midvalley. The area has momentum because of Whole Foods Market, he noted. Mason Morse’s ground-floor space near Starbucks will be about 1,400 square feet.
Hunt said she and her husband also felt Willits would be the best place to locate their business. They also looked in the downtown core.
“There’s just more traffic (in Willits),” she said.
Picard scoured Steamboat Springs, Boulder and the Roaring Fork Valley for the right place and picked Willits for his “North American flagship.”
Sure Thing became a sensation in Maui with just a 380-square-foot kitchen that serves customers in a courtyard. Picard said tourists visiting the island know about the restaurant from word-of-mouth or learn about it.
“All of our customers leave every week,” he said.
They turn into his best advertising tool via social media.
“They tell you the truth, and then they write about you,” he said.
Picard is averse to labeling his restaurant a gourmet burger joint. The menu will be relatively simple, with four basic burger options and a few salads. The hallmark will be affordability.
“Anybody can make a good $15 burger,” Picard said.
He’s found a size that customers like for a price they appreciate. Beef, turkey and veggie burgers won’t top $10, he said, and there will be options even lower priced. Plus, it will be local, grass-fed beef that doesn’t have chemical additives, and the cows were never pumped with hormones or antibiotics.
Sure Thing will be about 1,800 square feet, with an open kitchen where customers can see the staff grinding the meat and handling fresh produce.
As for customers, Sure Thing will be for everybody, from families to construction workers.
“In fact, you’re probably already too overdressed when you come into Sure Thing,” Picard said.
Tenants at the city’s oldest deed-restricted housing complex, Centennial Apartments, faced rent hikes as high as 30% in January that sent city, county, and APCHA officials into closed-door meetings with the relatively new landlord, Birge & Held.