November 22 2005, 5:03 AM
Real estate in Aspen seems to be its prime commodity. Many of the restaurants that have been around for decades are selling out. It's hard to blame them, but it's still sad. In their place will come multi-storied new buildings. In five years, will there be anything recognizable to someone like me who has been a frequent visitor to the town for the past 30 years?
La Cocina and the Mother Lode closed for good earlier this year. Cooper St. Pier's days are numbered because of the sale of its building. The space where the Wienerstube restaurant is located is due for redevelopment.The Mother Lode was my favorite of the old-timer jaunts. It was filled with locals, had decent Italian food, and until the last ten years or so, a lively bar scene. It was always my first stop after midnight on New Years -- where I went after leaving the chi-chi place I spent the evening from dinnertime through the magic midnight moment. It was the place I retreated to so I could be with people I knew, dressed down in jeans, regaling each other with wild stories of the old days. The bar at the Hotel Jerome was another faovrite, where you sould be sitting next to some pretty famous people who would pull out a chair and say sit with us. One time it was Jack Nicholson. Another time it was Jimmy Buffett. No "Suits" for miles around. Aspen also has a fabulous high-end optical shop with every designer frame you would see in New York. The Explorer Bookstore is another gem of a place. It's like finding a Tattered Cover in the heart of Aspen. But everyone knew, from the days Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood came to town, Aspen was headed in a corporate direction. I hope the city planners insist on restricting the new development in the town. It would be a shame for so many of us Coloradans to visit Aspen and find its character gone.