Turks gets party started in Snowmass | AspenTimes.com

Turks gets party started in Snowmass

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun
Mike Mercatoris, left, and Tim Lucca stand behind the refurbished bar at Turks, opening Dec. 16 in the former Mountain Dragon space. Mercatoris' company ZG Hospitality has been instrumental in helping the new live music venue open, owner Lucca said.
Jeremy Wallace/Snowmass Sun |

For 30 years, the Mountain Dragon played host to live music, rookie-​​​ski-​instructor parties, veteran-​ski-​instructor parties, apres-ski, dinner and so much more for Snowmass Village’s residents and workers.

But owner Doug “Merc” Mercatoris decided to retire at the end of the 2013-14 season, and since then the spacious restaurant on the upper Snowmass Village Mall has sat empty.

Not anymore.

Tim Lucca, owner of a music-production company and a well-known Aspen-area bartender, is opening a live music venue in the space. Turks will be open for apres-ski through late-night hours starting at 3 p.m. Dec. 16.

“This is an opportunity for me to do what I do,” Lucca told The Aspen Times in November. “I’m so excited. To me, it’s like I won the lottery.”

Merc’s nephew, Mike Mercatoris, owner of the ZG Hospitality consultant business, has been instrumental in getting Turks off the ground, Lucca said. Mercatoris ran the numbers and helped Lucca come up with a business plan to present to landlord Related Colorado, whom Lucca said he was grateful to for its focus on this agreement despite the distractions of potential sales of its holdings in Base village and the Snowmass Center.

“They kept to this deal,” Lucca said. “They made it happen. They didn’t want this space to sit empty for the community of Snowmass Village.”

Some pieces in the renovated space will look familiar: The bench along the window in the bar area has been updated with cubbies underneath, and the original Dragon bar has been reinstalled. It might look a little different, though — Lucca decided to take three days to strip the glazing down to the original black walnut wood.

Other pieces have been reclaimed from elsewhere: Turks’ barstools came from the Bucci restaurant that used to be in Base Village, wood for the stage and the platform seating areas came from homes in Woody Creek that were being demolished, and appliances behind the bar came from a closure sale in Boulder.

“It’s not only cheaper, but it has a good story,” Mike Mercatoris said.

Lucca plans to have live music during both an apres-ski stint and a late-night session. In between, he wants to serve food and invite people to use the space for private parties and other things. Turks’ 20-plus beer taps will be flowing at all times.

While Turks won’t have an operational kitchen, ZG Hospitality has enabled it to place delivery orders with other Snowmass restaurants. It also will have some items on hand so that hot food is always available while it’s open.

For Turks’ opening, Rob Dasaro’s Ski Patrol Band will play an apres-ski session and local jam band Jes Grew, which used to play the Dragon after Snowmass’ Thursday night concerts, will play a late-night session.

On Dec. 17, Turks will have a 3 p.m. ribbon cutting led by most of Snowmass Village’s living mayors — Markey Butler, Bill Boineau, Merc, T. Michael Manchester and Jim Hooker. The ceremony will be followed by more music.

For Lucca, who also used to operate the Grottos in Aspen and then the Blue Door in Snowmass Village, this is a dream long in the making. Some of the items in Turks have been sitting in his storage space for 10 years.

“It was a leap of faith,” he said. “I’m so blessed.”