Taster’s owners opening Daly Diner at Snowmass Center
Late this week or early next, Snowmass Village residents and visitors will be able to dine at a new town eatery with old local roots.
The Daly Diner, opening in the former Village Tavern space at the Snowmass Center, is getting set to serve up American comfort foods for breakfast and lunch.
Headed by Stacy Forster and Heather Huber, co-owners of Taster’s Pizza, the new diner will take after the Wildcat Café, which was one of the handful of restaurants that has occupied the same space since Forster opened Taster’s in 2001, and will add to the village’s shortlist of dine-in breakfast options.
“We knew that there was a demand for breakfast. … There are at least two places for breakfast on the mall but really the only thing you have at the center right now is the grocery store,” Forster said.
“So as soon as people heard that we’re going to be serving breakfast, we started getting a lot of encouragement and excitement about it.”
On a recent afternoon during a three-day test kitchen for the Daly Diner, Forster talked about how when Eastwood Snowmass Investments, owner of the Snowmass Center, asked Forster and Huber if they wanted to expand Taster’s into the Village Tavern space, he didn’t want to at first. Eastwood Snowmass confirmed in June that the Village Tavern would not reopen.
However, Forster said that with the proposed redevelopment of the Snowmass Center, which is going through the town’s final planned unit development process, Tasters’ current location isn’t going to be usable during the project.
By having the old tavern location, Forster and Huber could keep the new diner open and hopefully offer up some Taster’s classics, too, during the planned redevelopment construction, Forster explained.
“It was basically a way of extending our time in business once (the redevelopment) gets started,” Forster said. “So (Eastwood Snowmass) is working with us to try to make this a success.”
Over the past several weeks, Forster and Huber — who became a co-owner of Taster’s in 2008 — have worked hard to transform the Village Tavern into the Daly Diner, working to brighten up the space and make some needed repairs.
“Heather has really been the driving force of what you see now,” Forster said, gesturing to the refurbished center space. “She’s been doing a lot of the work herself, buying the lumber and things needed to make repairs and has really worked hard to make sure that everything is very cleanable so we can keep things nice and clean.”
Forster went on to say a few of the tavern’s former employees have been hired onto the new diner team, too, including Marcus Braley, who will work as the Daly Diner’s front-end manager.
Braley said he feels it’s been a pretty smooth transition so far and has really enjoyed helping build the diner menu and getting the space ready to serve locals again.
“We’re really excited to give the Snowmass community and our visitors another breakfast option and to put out good, comfort diner food,” Braley said. “We wanted it to be a good atmosphere and place where people can gather.”
Overall for Forster and his local restaurant business, there have been a lot of ups and downs over the past year. The Aspen Taster’s location at Rio Grande Place was forced to close last August due to the city of Aspen’s new office building construction. When COVID-19 hit in March, the original Taster’s in Snowmass was already set up to offer take-out and delivery service and has been one of the only village eateries that’s remained open during the crisis. And now five months later as the pandemic continues, Taster’s has been as busy if not busier than last summer and its owners are about to open a new Snowmass restaurant.
When asked what Forster’s learned over the past year especially, he said it’s to keep grinding away and continue to help take care of the community.
“I think the most important thing I’ve ever learned in business has been to just keep showing up. If you don’t give yourself an out you learn, you make mistakes and you just keep going,” Forster said, emphasizing that working in the restaurant industry isn’t easy and takes a lot of hard work.
“I’m very grateful for the Snowmass Village community. I know they have always looked out for me and so I do what I can to take care of the community because they take care of me. … Everyone has been so encouraging of what we’re doing here, which is pretty special.”
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On Sept. 11, a small group of local Roaring Fork Fire Rescue responders walked 3 miles from Snowmass Town Park to the Top of the Village for the fifth annual Axes and Arms 9/11 Climb.