Justice Snow’s opens for Halloween, but restaurant’s future looks scary
Justice Snow’s rose from the dead Tuesday and celebrated Halloween with a disc-jockey party complete with burritos and cocktails, all with a grim future as the backdrop.
Tuesday’s opening was a one-time deal, owner Michele Kiley said. The restaurant, which closed Oct. 14, will re-open on a steadier basis as early as next week, but only if she can agree to the terms of the city’s offer of an amended month-to-month lease through the winter, Kiley said.
“We have offered Kiley a lease amendment than runs through April 15, 2018,” said Assistant City Manager Sara Ott, adding that Kiley will need to pay the city its rent for November if she plans to continue operations through the winter.
“We’ve given Justice Snow’s this opportunity for a lease amendment and we’re waiting for (Kiley’s) response to it,” Ott said.
Kiley said she wants the city to be clear on what it expects from Justice Snow’s in the future.
She said the city also has indicated to her it will open up a request-for-proposals process for a future tenant. Council members have asked the city to put together information on the details of an RFP that would be discussed publicly at a future meeting, Ott said.
Kiley said she likely would opt out of participating in the RFP exercise should it come to that.
“That would be really difficult for me because I did it before and it was an 11-month process,” she said. “It was a very long and painful process.”
Kiley, who prevailed over a number of potential suitors for the city-owned space during an RFP process in 2011, opened the restaurant in January 2012 with a five-year lease.
It has been operating on a month-to-month lease since the original term expired, with the city not appearing to want to give it another five-year term.
On Monday, city spokeswoman Mitzi Rapkin said the City Council, which has ultimate authority of the lease terms, “has not announced anything publicly and will not today.”
The city’s expectations for the tenant of the 2,618-square-foot space is difficult to pinpoint, Kiley said. Some members of City Council want to see a broader range of food that is affordable, but “affordable” has different meanings to different people, Kiley said.
Councilman Bert Myrin also has stated that whatever tenant the city leases the space to should be open as much as possible; Justice Snow’s’ lease allows for a two-week closure in both the autumn and spring offseasons.
“I’ve been trying to make this a great community asset, not a personal enrichment,” Kiley said, “but at the end of the day, what does the town want?”
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Many members of the community wrote to laud the former Skico executive and city councilman for his friendship, dedication to family and community-minded spirit over more than two decades in Aspen.