It’s the Fourth of July Weekend (yes, I know that the Fourth doesn’t fall until next Wednesday, but we like to have ample opportunity around here to celebrate our independence) and the time is fine for heading out to the Woody Creek Tavern.Times are good in Woody Creek. Larry Leffner’s gallery is not only full of his amazing woodwork, but, following last Friday’s opening reception, there are Stranahans and Berkos hanging graciously on the walls. I particularly like the winter scenes, especially on a hot day. The sight of snow on a fence or a roof has a cooling effect.Just to the east, the Woody Creek Store is undergoing its transformation into a nonprofit community center, and there may be no construction project in this entire valley that is as worthy as this one. It’s not quite a community barn-raising, but the spirit and the intent to create a place where people can congregate for the sake of congregation is noble.Over at the Tavern itself, things seem to be moving along less than a month following the double-million-dollar sale of the place. The new owners (I’ve only met one) are very nice, and one roots for them.There have been a few changes so far. The flying pigs that lit up the ceiling went with Mary; the hummingbirds are not hanging out now that the feeders are gone; it’s tough to get through the ingress/egress to the smoking lounge, what with all the chairs and trash cans stacked up; and the hemp T-shirts have been 86’d.Oh, and like the new owners of the Jerome, who stated “nothing is going to change,” the new owners of the Tavern promptly changed managers. That sort of thing hasn’t worked out well for Iraq; it remains to be seen how it will work for the Jerome and the Tavern.The devil is in the details. Drop the hummingbirds and the hemp, next thing you know the vegetarian chorizo is gone from the nachos. Maybe the Limousin beef gets a little costly so it’s back to ground round. A new tequila for the margaritas? Most folks won’t know the difference. Perhaps you can do a little better than the shade-grown, free-trade coffee. And who knows, perhaps cutting a shift or two would help with the debt load.The thing about the Tavern is that it ain’t broke. Trying to fix it will inevitably change it, and that is not a good thing. It should be an honor and a privilege – a very profitable honor and privilege – to own an Aspen institution, and so far the new owners of places like La Cocina, the Mother Lode, and The Red Onion haven’t seem to feel that the honor is as profitable as the alternative.This week things will be crazy-busy at the Tavern. Each day 300 or more dinners will be served, countless drinks poured, countless plus dishes washed, and hundreds of tables cleared. It will be grueling work for the staff, but in the past they have taken care of every last one and every last thing.Let’s hope that continues forever.
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