Aurum Aspen Snowmass to make summer debut in Base Village |

Aurum Aspen Snowmass to make summer debut in Base Village

New restaurant will bring “dramatically different” feel to Base Village space

Village Tasting Room servers Ibo Ruskov, left, and Elizabeth Haley set up the outdoor patio for opening at 11 a.m. in Snowmass Base Village on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Thanks to a “critical momentum” in Snowmass Base Village, one restaurant venture years in the making will soon become a reality: Aurum Aspen Snowmass promises to bring a “dramatically different” feel to the space currently occupied by the Village Tasting Room in mid-June, said Phillips Armstrong, founder of Destination Hospitality Restaurant Group.

“Every time I’ve visited over the last year, it seems like there’s more and more energy in the Base (Village),” Armstrong said. “I think it’s at the point where something can be sustaining. … We want to come in and sort of set the tone for a new era.”

Base Village developer East West Partners is likewise looking toward a new era, Armstrong said; Destination Hospitality and East West have paired up to bring the project to fruition and announced the restaurant debut this week. State 38 previously occupied the venue before its current iteration as the Village Tasting Room pop-up operated by Aspen Skiing Co.; State 38 closed last year.

This new restaurant was a long time coming, Armstrong said. His company spent nearly three years communicating with East West to find the ideal opportunity for a Roaring Fork Valley project before landing on the space at the base of the Village Express chairlift.

“We had gone back and forth until we found the right fit, the right deal and the right project, and so we’re super excited about it,” he said.

Destination Hospitality operates two other restaurants under the Aurum marquee in Steamboat Springs and Breckenridge; Table 79 Foodbar and The Periodic Table, both in Steamboat, also are on the roster.

Armstrong’s role largely focuses on the upstart of new ventures under the Destination Hospitality umbrella — managing partnerships, hiring key staff — and he considers himself a curator when it comes to the design of each restaurant.

That will be no different for Aurum Aspen Snowmass. An overhaul of the space will place a new emphasis on the venue’s outdoor dining area.

“We see that as the number one goal design-wise to bring a lot more attention to that (outdoor) space,” Armstrong said. “It’s an underutilized, great location that I just don’t think has been shed in the right light yet.”

The main interior will take on a “residential, convivial” form with furniture that might be more common in a living room than a restaurant; a private dining room will be positioned toward the back of the restaurant, Armstrong said.

Renovations will begin after the ski season ends in April, with roughly two months of “hot and heavy” construction before the early summer opening, Armstrong said. His team met Jan. 25 to finalize most of the design details.

“There will be a dramatically different feel to the space, I can promise that,” he said. “We just hope it can be done in a very short amount of time.”

Though the design will be a departure from the current setup, the menu will be filled with familiar flavors in the genre of contemporary American fare. Parker House rolls, crispy curried cauliflower, house-made pasta and chocolate chip cookies — all standard items at other Aurum locations — will be among the offerings.

A yet-to-be-named chef will bring with them dishes unique to their style and to the Aurum Aspen Snowmass location; the company is considering a handful of candidates for the role, according to Armstrong.

With a combination of happy hour deals and high-end dishes, Armstrong said Aurum Aspen Snowmass will cater to those looking to grab an affordable bite as well as diners with a larger budget and appetite.

Prices for appetizers, shared plates and desserts will likely fall into the $5 to $25 range, with additional discounts during happy hour, while entrees and specials will total a higher bill. Most main dishes on the Steamboat and Breckenridge Aurum menus are in the $40 to $60 range, though some items are pricier.

“We are known for having the best happy hour in town, and that’s something we intend to continue here,” Armstrong said. “We know that we’re breaking even in it, but we think that is for the goodwill of the local community. … We believe that a great, long lasting ski town restaurant is built on a killer happy hour.”

Destination Hospitality already has names in mind for head chef and will likely hire senior leadership from within the company, Armstrong said. But there also will be a wide range of openings for local restaurant workers; the application process will open in the spring, with interviews beginning in April.

“The people that make our restaurants go is really important to us, so we put a huge emphasis on our hiring process,” he said. “I really hope that we attract a really great team here locally, because we really do pour into our people really heavily and we do a lot of training and a lot of staff education. … We really invest in our people.”

So too is there an investment in hospitality, Armstrong emphasized.

“When you’re in our restaurants, we totally try and go above and beyond just to create an amazing dining experience,” he said. “People should look forward to that.”

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