Letter: Aspen Kitchen owners respond to criticism

Dear Aspen community,

It is with great anticipation and hope that AK Restaurant LLC, a division of Craveable Hospitality Group and the new owner of Aspen Kitchen and Rickhouse Social (formerly Rec Room), can earn your respect and patronage.

As many of The Aspen Times readers and community members are aware, the entity known as Rocky Aspen LLC, which operated Aspen Kitchen and Rec Room, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection only a few months after opening. It is important to note that Craveable Hospitality Group (formerly Watershed Ventures) had been engaged by the financier of the project to manage the restaurant and lounge, but had no obligation to finance the operation.

The construction process was lengthy and difficult, and although the restaurant was able to open December 2015, it was never properly capitalized. The restaurant and lounge were beautiful, a talented team was hired, and the food and service were exceptional, but shortly after opening Craveable Hospitality Group was faced with either shuttering the restaurant or providing financial support. We believed in the property so we chose the latter and assumed control of Rocky Aspen, but in order to protect the operation from faltering under the previously incurred debts, the Chapter 11 process was commenced in March.

From March through August, Craveable Hospitality Group provided almost $600,000 in financing to the restaurant and ultimately was the only group willing to put in yet more money to avoid a Chapter 7 liquidation and closure of the business. In the transaction that was completed, many creditors, including the local contractors that built the property, realized a large portion of the funds they were owed.

So from starting out as the management company, then becoming a lender, we are now the owner and operator of Aspen Kitchen and Rickhouse Social. It is our hope that the Aspen community understands the complexity of our prior association with Rocky Aspen LLC. We understand that certain members of the community have experienced losses. We sincerely apologize and will do our best to make things right. We have invested significant financial resources to acquire and reopen the restaurant, and have only just begun the process of regaining your trust.

Craveable Hospitality Group’s mission is to “inspire awe” through hospitality, and we pledge to do so at Aspen Kitchen and Rickhouse Social. My team and I will take ownership of our responsibilities to the community, will respect those who continue to support our efforts, will commit to excellence in hospitality and service, and will speak and act with integrity as we venture through this winter season and beyond.

Thank you.

Stephen Goglia

President and CEO, Craveable Hospitality Group