Empower locals with more Aspen dining choices | AspenTimes.com

Empower locals with more Aspen dining choices

Regarding Monday’s article on the lack of affordable eateries in Aspen, Torre, I feel your pain (“Officials grapple with locals being priced out of Aspen,” The Aspen Times).

Here in the Roaring Fork, and especially above the intercept lot, cheap and cheerful is not to be found. Don’t get me wrong, there’re some great breakfast joints in the valley, but they ain’t cheap.

That’s the curse of living in a pretty place. Lahaina, Carmel, Ketchum, Nantucket, the list goes on, they all have the same problem. They used to have cheap, good food, and now they don’t. Selling glitzy trinkets, t-shirts and $50 entrees, that’s how you pay the bills.

So here’s maybe a new tool for Aspen’s toolbox. Have a locals-only photo ID card. Like a senior bus pass. The city could acquire a couple food venues, nice places, not windowless basements.

Lease them out at $1 a square foot. Require the tenants to serve cardholders only. Set hours of operation; that’s it. Leave menus and prices up to the tenant vendors’ ingenuity. Issue the cards to folks with local addresses on their drivers’ licenses and who have been paying rent or property taxes for at least four or five years. Or some other number. You decide. If you’re worried about the size of that customer base, include those with 81621 and 81623 ZIP codes.

The concept would be controversial. But it might succeed. Remember the old In & Out House? Now there was an eatery that filled your belly without emptying your wallet. Maybe someone could do that again.

A locals-only ID card hasn’t been tried before, you say? Well, that’s what leaders do when the old ways don’t work anymore, isn’t it? They try new things. Or, you could just give me a call, and we could carpool down to the Village Inn in Glenwood. Now that’s value for money.

Barry Vaughan

El Jebel