Meet Your Merchant: Big Hoss Grill ups the ante on entertainment |

Meet Your Merchant: Big Hoss Grill ups the ante on entertainment

Longtime barbecue joint expands its late-night lineup

Billy Bryan, also known as DJ B-squared, plays a set at the après hour at Big Hoss in the Snowmass Mall on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. Bryan plays on Monday, Wednesday, and late-night Fridays. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Big Hoss Grill is, by the admission of its owners, a “quirky” kind of restaurant on the second level of the Snowmass Mall.

“We’re becoming known for our lava lamps,” joked Steve Sklar, who co-owns the longstanding barbecue joint with Christine Newcomb.

What Sklar calls the “fun wall” might be gaining a reputation, by nature of its audacious collection of memorabilia that includes a “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” movie poster, the cover of a Playboy magazine, a “Colorful Colorado” license place, a commemorative pennant from the 1972 Winter Olympics, an illustration of the Snowmass Mall and a poster that features dozens of tiny, naked cartoon skiers.

“We’re not cookie cutter, that’s for sure,” Sklar said.

Now, he and Newcomb are hoping the restaurant will become known for entertainment, too. They knocked out a wall to expand the restaurant and built a stage that hosts comics, musicians and DJs several days a week. Currently on the roster: Monday and Wednesday afternoon apres parties, Tuesday karaoke, Friday late-night DJ action and Saturday live music, plus comedy on the first Thursday of every month.

They saw a need and an opportunity for a “little mom-and-pop apres vibe” in Snowmass Village, Sklar said — a place with enough late-night lively programming that people won’t feel like they need to head to Aspen to get that experience.

“It’s not like we didn’t do live music before,” Newcomb said, but the owners figured that “if we expand, and we have the room, we might as well make a space to really do this.”

The bigger floor plan was a boon during pandemic restrictions on indoor dining, since Big Hoss could spread out tables into a space that was previously occupied by the Foot Foundation up front and the office for NASTAR Director (and current Snowmass mayor) Bill Madsen toward the back.

“I joke we threw (Madsen) out, but he was very kind in changing the terms of his lease so that he could get out of our way so we could do the expansion,” Sklar said. The Foot Foundation relocated to Aspen and “the stars aligned” for the revamp, he said. Sklar and Newcomb already have their sights on even more updates that will enable an indoor-outdoor patio setup in the back right corner of the restaurant.

Still, the launch of Big Hoss as an entertainment destination this year has had it’s “ups and downs,” in part because the team is still fine-tuning promotion, Newcomb said.

There’s also the reality that Snowmass Village isn’t really known for its late-night scene in the same way Aspen is, Sklar said.

Snowmass Village has for years been the family-friendly town — Big Hoss, too, is a family-oriented restaurant, and Sklar and Newcomb plan to keep that accessible atmosphere intact.

“I know we can’t be everything to everybody, but we’re trying to … still be family friendly because that’s what Snowmass is, but you know, let’s turn it up a notch,” Sklar said.

Sklar hopes he can also bring back some of the tomfoolery and shenanigans he remembers from the town’s rowdier days a few decades back, when events like Wintersköl and Mardi Gras involved a lot more debauchery. That effort is already underway with events like a January pajama party that aligned with Wintersköl this year.

“I know that I can’t singlehandedly bring it back, but damn well we’re gonna try,” Sklar said. “Let’s go back to those fun, boisterous (times).”