A new beer and wine bar described by its owner as “a cozy and nice place” could open as soon as mid- or late January on Aspen’s East Hopkins Avenue restaurant row.
A co-owner of the venture, to be called “Insider,” is Max Popovic, a native of Croatia who has lived and worked in Aspen for about 10 years. Popovic said the bar will be located below the Katie Reed Building at 301 E. Hopkins Ave. in the basement property formerly occupied by the Double Dog Pub and later the Pitkin County Tavern.
He has signed a five-year lease for the 1,420-square-foot space, of which about 1,250 square feet is floor area for tables and patrons. The remaining space covers the bar and kitchen.
“I hope that it will be the right place for everybody, for the community and myself, too,” said Popovic, who currently is a server at Matsuhisa restaurant on East Main Street. “We’ve been looking for something for so many years. Most of us are looking for something we can have of our own.
“I look at this as a lasting destination for me. I’m not thinking about moving anywhere else,” he added.
Popovic plans only to be open during evenings and nights during winter. His summer hours will depend on whether he is able to obtain some outdoor patio space, which might enable a lunch operation.
The kitchen will be open until midnight or 12:30 a.m. and the menu promises to be different by Aspen bar standards, featuring healthy offerings — seafood dishes, soups, salads, paninis, and fruit, cheese and veggie plates — rather than fried fare like burgers and fries.
“Not the greasy bar food, but small portions are what I consider to be a bar menu,” said Popovic,
He stressed that ideas are still “up in the air” and something fried might make its way into the mix.
“We still don’t know, we are still discussing that part, about the greasy food,” he said. “I don’t want people thinking it’s a place to come in for a dinner. It’s a place to socialize, have a couple of drinks, have a snack.”
Popovic plans to offer 12 beers on tap — the biggest draught-beer selection in town by current standards — along with just as many bottle offerings. Insider also will feature wines by the glass.
“We want to have beers from around the world,” he said. “Especially in the winter season, when people from all over the world come to Aspen, they might be able to find their local beer in our bar.”
He’s also hoping to feature something from Aspen Brewing Co. and other Colorado microbrews.
Popovic is planning a fresh look for the place, with new paint, wooden floors, high tables and chairs, wall mirrors and television sets for sports viewing.
Insider will not utilize the adjacent basement space formerly occupied by The Steak Pit and later the Pitkin County Steakhouse; Popovic said he hopes that space eventually will be occupied so that a synergy can be developed between two operations instead of having his bar located next door to an empty space.
He added that he might offer live music sometimes, just as the Double Dog did, “but let’s not say that it’s carved into stone.”