Aspen barbecue joint burned by Castle Creek bridge work
Business at the Hickory House has tanked by 50 percent since the Castle Creek Bridge and Hallam Street construction project began two weeks ago.
That’s according to David Chan, general manager of the barbecue restaurant on the edge of Main Street’s S-curves.
“A lot of people don’t know we’re open because of the detour,” Chan said. “On the way out of town, people think we’re closed.”
The nearly $5 million project — plans call for an 8-foot-wide sidewalk on the bridge’s north side and new intersections and bus stops at Seventh and Eighth streets — started April 2.
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Since work began, the two-lane bridge has been reduced to one lane for Aspen-bound traffic.
Outbound traffic — those motorists who don’t see the Hickory House that is in plain view from the S-curves — is detoured through the West End neighborhood and onto Power Plant Road.
For the Hickory House, the only restaurant or retailer on the S-curves, that means a big chunk of lost potential revenue, Chan said. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and has a full-service bar.
“It’s definitely hurting us, but you have to sit here and take it,” he said. “There’s nothing you can do.”
The staff has been cut, even more than during offseason months, because of the project, of which the first phase ends June 11. Work is scheduled to resume Aug. 12 through October.
The Hickory House crosses economic boundaries in Aspen, attracting a number of worker bees as well as the moneyed set.
The lunch crowd is “more of the working people. And they’re not coming. They’re staying in town,” Chan said.
The Hickory House has started closing Mondays and Tuesdays during the offseason, Chan said. It also is considering adding lunch to its delivery service, he said, to help shore up the deficit.
The city of Aspen also allowed it to put a sign near the entrance of the Maroon Creek bridge to let motorists know the restaurant is still open during the construction project.
“The city is trying to help us as much as they can,” he said. However, the city’s restrictions on sign sizes have lessened the sign’s advertising impact, he said.
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The Basalt Town Council voted 7-0 Tuesday night to take a first, small step to try to spur business at restaurants and retail shops. They will mail $20 vouchers to all town households.