Zo’s Bar shuts doors | AspenTimes.com

Zo’s Bar shuts doors

One self-proclaimed local’s establishment that has been serving spirits in Aspen for 20 years has closed its doors.

Zo’s Sports Bar and Grill, on East Hyman Avenue next to Little Annie’s, served its last beer on Monday, just before its lease ran out. The owner of the bar said the building has hosted some sort of pub or eating establishment for the past 30 years.

“We’re bummed in a way because it was part of your life for a while, but on the other hand you can’t pay the rent,” said Aspen resident Rowland Krupp, former owner of the bar during the 18 years it was known as O’Leary’s Pub.

Two years ago the pub became Zo’s, and Aspen resident Robert Bandy took over ownership, naming the bar after his son. At one point, Bandy said, the business was the only sports bar in town with satellite television for drawing in an international crowd to watch rugby and soccer tournaments.

The bar also went through a phase of permitting smoking only outside on its small deck area in front ? a short-lived rule since the smoke blew right back inside the front windows during the summer. The bar later outfitted itself with an expensive “smoke sucker” system to reduce fumes in the bar’s eating area.

The building’s owner, Jean Ingham of Abiquiu, N.M., said he doesn’t yet have a tenant to replace the sports bar and denied rumors that he’s only looking for a retail or real estate business.

“I don’t have any plans yet, but an awful lot of people would like that space,” he said. He also said he kept rent reasonable during the past 20 years.

“Aspen has changed a lot, and all you have to do is look around to see that,” he said. “It’s unbelievable, but that’s obviously the way it is, because it’s been doing this for years and years. It’s pure economics.”

Ingham, who has owned the building since 1971, said the first eating establishment he remembers in the building was Casey’s, a three-floor restaurant with a bar on every floor.

Krupp said what’s happening with Zo’s is just a sign of the times for locally owned and operated bars.

“The rent was up so far that for the rest of the bar it just doesn’t cut it ? not for a local’s place anyway, and not at what we were charging. Maybe a foo-foo place in here would cut it,” he said. “The locals here in Aspen are great people, and they support whatever they can that’s locally owned. They’re hardworking people, but it just wasn’t enough.”

[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com]

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