Leave restaurant off city’s menu of incompetence
October 17, 2017
Former Wheeler Opera House director Gram Slaton weighed in online to the debate about the restaurant space in the Wheeler (currently occupied by Justice Snow's). See https://www.aspentimes.com/news/justice-snows-city-of-aspen-in-limbo/. I agree with one aspect of Gram's suggestion.
The restaurant space should be viewed as part of the Wheeler enterprise. The purpose of the Wheeler enterprise is to ensure there is an entertainment venue that's active year round. The objectives are to avoid the town's going completely dark in offseasons and to augment the action in high seasons.
According to Gram, that should include the ability of theater-goers to obtain food and drink at the entertainment venue. That makes sense to me. It makes a lot more sense than the squishy concepts "locally serving" and "affordable."
I disagree with Gram that the city should run the restaurant. As Glenn Beaton points out, the city has enough trouble getting the basics of city government right. Don't take on another responsibility outside your competence, whatever that is.
Leave it to the Wheeler board and its director to decide what they want in that space and how to get it. Leave it to them to find an operator and to negotiate terms.
Sure, the food operation might operate at a loss; the entire Wheeler enterprise loses millions. The Wheeler enterprise is designed to run losses. And don't worry about the Wheeler food operation competing with private sector restaurants. With the city or the Wheeler running it, the food and service might not be that good anyway.
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