Gywn’s High Alpine Restaurant in Snowmass reopens for season after $6 million facelift
The Aspen Times
MAJOR CHANGES TO GYWN’S HIGH ALPINE RESTAURANT:
• Significantly remodeled building with massive stone entry and rockwork.
• New high ceiling entry bar with cocktails and appetizer menu, grand wood burning fireplace, custom black walnut bar, seating areas, flat screen televisions and views of Black Diamond High Alpine terrain.
• Vaulted ceiling dining room with views of High Alpine Terrain and the Snowmass Valley.
• New market-style food service, in lieu of former cafeteria-style dining, with stations including soups and stews, a grill, hand-tossed salad bar, pizza and artisan flatbreads, specialty items and homemade desserts as well as grab-and-go drinks and snacks.
• Renovated outdoor grill with beer and wine garden and expanded deck seating.
• Upper deck lounge area in front of bar with couches and fire pit.
• New hot drink bar in lower lounge area with floor to ceiling windows and views of the Cirque ridgeline and Mt. Sopris.
• Retail shop relocated with a large selection of accessories, base and outer layers from Marmot, Icebreaker, Obermeyer and the full line of Smith goggles and helmets.
The goal of the family behind the beloved 36-year-old Gwyn’s High Alpine Restaurant is for patrons to feel like they are eating in their home.
“We love the idea of our family restaurant,” said restaurant manager Whitney Gordon, whose parents, Gwyn Knowlton and George Gordon, started the popular restaurant on Snowmass Mountain just prior to the 1979-80 ski season.
“We want you to feel like you’re coming into our dining room,” she said.
In many ways, dining at Gywn’s Restaurant is an experience inside the family’s home.
When Gwyn and George opened the restaurant there were no children in the picture.
Today, their firstborn, Whitney, manages the establishment, where her 4-year-old son, James, runs around just like his mother had as a young child.
Also like his mother, James tags along on the back of the snowmobile to venture to the restaurant each morning at 6 a.m.
That is, when he isn’t in day care at the Little Red School House, where Whitney also attended as a child.
Gwyn and George’s younger daughter, Tracey, also has been involved with the restaurant in every capacity since she could stand, Gywn said.
The hope is that Tracey, who currently resides in Naples, Florida, will soon return home to help take over the business, Whitney said.
The kids also played Pacman on the old-school arcade machine located in the bottom of the restaurant, which, Whitney has assured loyal patrons, will remain in the remodeled version of Gywn’s High Alpine Restaurant.
This offseason, Gywn’s underwent a major $5.9 million renovation — the most significant change to the restaurant since Gwyn and George expanded the original space from 120 seats to 650 back in 1979.
“It needed a little face-lift after 35 years — just like we all do,” Gywn said with a laugh. “It was time for an update is the way we feel about it.”
Changes to the restaurant were just improvements to the old establishment while still maintaining its warm, lodge-y feel and character, Whitney said.
“We said (to Aspen Skiing Co.), ‘We want to see it new but we don’t want it to change, for our guests especially. We want it to have that same family feel,” she said, adding, “We didn’t want it to go modern,” either.
One change to the restaurant the family is certain customers will not mind is the bathrooms — which previously required trudging in ski boots down to the bottom floor of the restaurant — now relocated to the main entry level.
Another major change to the new Gywn’s is the significantly increased window space and expanded views of Snowmass ski area, Gwyn said.
The dining system is also different — rather than offering a cafeteria-style service, the new Gywn’s will feature a “market place” service with various food stations, similar to Elk Camp or the Sundeck, Whitney said.
All of the menu items will remain the same, too, including all of their famous homemade soups and stews.
Gywn’s is only expanding its menu to feature new options such as an artisan flatbread station, more daily soups and vegetarian options, Whitney said.
The family is confident that longtime Gywn-goers will appreciate the improvements to the establishment.
“It’s dazzling now,” said Gywn, adding that she looks forward to the start of the restaurant’s next chapter.
Gwyn’s High Alpine Restaurant will open Dec. 10 for the 2016-17 winter season.
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