Bomb-scare closures have big impact on Aspen businesses
ASPEN, Colorado One Aspen police official estimated that the New Years Eve bomb scare that closed down the commercial core of the town caused losses in the millions of dollars to Aspen businesses.The estimate of losses came from Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn during a Thursday press conference about the bomb scare, which shut down all downtown businesses within a 16-block radius of the threatened banks after police got calls about suspicious packages from the bank managers.The packages, wrapped like Christmas gifts, were planted in banks and other places around town, allegedly by Aspen native Jim Blanning, who was found dead from a single gunshot wound on Thursday morning east of Aspen. According to reports, the packages did contain explosive devices.Linn said the incident, which started mid-afternoon on Wednesday and extended far into Thursday night, probably cost local law enforcement between $150,000 and $200,000.But for the restaurants, bars and liquor stores that were under mandatory evacuation orders, the sums involved were considerably greater, although several business owners praised the police for a quick and thorough response to the threat.It was pretty impressive, the way they did the whole deal, said Gary Plumley of the Grape & Grain liquor store on Hopkins Avenue. Plumley estimated that he lost roughly 60 percent of his anticipated sales for New Years Eve because he closed at about 4 p.m. and did not reopen until Thursday.That level of financial loss was reflected in statements by other liquor store managers at such businesses as Local Spirits and Carls Wine Cellar.You had a $60,000 dinner planned last night, said Linden Nelson, owner of the Crystal Palace Grille on Hopkins Avenue, discussing the losses of the night with his partner, executive chef Brad Smith.Nelson explained that the Palace Grille was prepping food for an invitation-only party for more than 200 people when the restaurant received a reverse-911 emergency call from police.Were inviting our people back tonight, Nelson said, explaining that the restaurant had contacted those with New Years Eve reservations and had spent the day preparing the decor and the food for a New Years Day celebration.Were making this a party to really celebrate that 09 is here, not the end of 08, Nelson said, expressing a sentiment that was echoed in numerous interviews conducted Thursday by The Aspen Times.Restaurants that were open for lunch were doing brisk business on Thursday, but restaurateurs could only shake their heads over the lost revenue that resulted from the shutdown of much of the towns commercial center on Wednesday night.At Bentleys, where many locals were expected to bring in the new year, manager Keith Hatanaka paused in the rush of business to declare, Yes, I was inconvenienced, and yes, we lost huge.Hatanaka declined to give specifics, but said it is typically one of the biggest nights of the year and estimated that he lost from half to three-quarters of the revenues he had been hoping for.At Asie on Main Street, the staff prepared to reopen for lunch and dinner on Thursday amid streamers dangling from helium balloons that still clung to the ceiling. The restaurant planned to leave the decorations up, but its receipts will be down, said co-owner Young Yang.The restaurant was forced to close its doors before 6 p.m. Wednesday, ushering a few diners out with their dinners packed in to-go boxes. Those customers were also given a discount on their dinner bills, Yang said.The bulk of the evenings business some 150 dinner reservations and a couple of thousand dollars worth of takeout orders was lost, he said. The lost revenue will probably equal about 15 percent of Asies revenues for the winter season, Yang said.Thats a lot of money for us, he said.
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