Raise your glasses: Wienerstube's days are numbered
After 45 years, the Wienerstube will shutter Jan 31. to make way for a new 30,000-square-foot art museum that has been both hailed and railed against by Aspen's varied political factions. Some think it is too big and out of character with the rest of downtown. Others believe it will be a tremendous asset for a sophisticated community that celebrates art and intellectualism as much as it does skiing and snowboarding.
But while the debate about the art museum isn't over, Aspen City Council's review of it is.
Ajax Bike & Sport, which shares the building on the corner of Spring Street and Hyman Avenue with the Wienerstube, is currently holding a going-out-of-business sale. The Wienerstube is offering dinner and wine specials and has at least two farewell bashes planned with the band, Those Austrian Guys.
“It's going to be a great time for those of us who like to party in the Austrian-German tradition," John “Johnny Aspen” Fray said of the Dec. 1 and Jan. 5 parties.
The Wienerstube celebrated its 45th anniversary in September with a lively crowd and copious buffet that featured wienerschnitzel, sausages and other authentic fare, along with generous boots of beer. Gerhard Mayritsch, who along with the late Helmut Schloffer founded the Wienerstube in 1965, was on hand along with the restaurant's dedicated and colorful patrons like Fray and ski icon Klaus Obermeyer.
The Wienerstube's first couple of decades were spent on Cooper Avenue. It then moved to its current location at 633 E. Hyman Ave., where it replaced the old U.S. post office. Mayritsch sold the restaurant to Horst Grilc in 2000. Two years later, Kevin Wilson and Laura Wren took over. Neuweg, who owns Fritz & Franz Bierhaus and the Mozart Stube in Coral Gables, Fla., was out here vacationing when the Wienerstube grabbed his attention. He soon bought the place, tweaked the menu and added dinners.
Despite the fun-loving energy and tradition that Neuweg injected into the eatery, profits for the restaurant were disappointing and the Wienerstube's nighttime offerings never really took off.
At the same time, the art museum received approval and the building is scheduled to be torn down this winter. Neuweg considered moving the operation to another space but couldn't find one that made sense. So he is going to concentrate on his businesses in Florida. And the Aspen eatery's fate is sealed.
So raise your glasses and let out a yodel. The Wienerstube will soon be no more.
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