Friday Afternoon Club resurrected in Aspen
The local love is being spread around town with the resurrection of one of Aspen’s favorite pastimes – partying poolside.
Three longtime Aspen establishments – the Molly Gibson Lodge, the Limelight Lodge and the Hotel Jerome – have brought back to life a local, old-school tradition for Aspenites who can remember hanging with their friends at the pool with (relatively speaking) cheap eats and drink.
Both the Molly and the Limelight have fired up the barbecue grills, and are offering drink and food specials poolside – traditions reminiscent of the ’80s. Over at the Jerome, the popular F.A.C. (Friday Afternoon Club), was reintroduced July 10 after a 15-year or so hiatus.
Back in the day, the place to be was the Molly pool, recalled Kip Feight, who helped start the outdoor bar and grill there, and is now the owner/operator of Conundrum Catering.
“That was the best part-time job I had … it was ridiculously affordable,” he said of the Molly. “All the yummy mummies would come with their kids to the pool, and that attracted all kinds of construction workers and plumbers there for lunch.”
Feight scoped out the scene this past July Fourth, which was the opening day of the new and improved pool and bar.
“It’s kind of neat that they have brought it back,” he said.
Like all good things, the Molly scene came to an end, and it became a pool-poaching place for those trying to keep the glory days alive.
Michael Brown, who has owned the Molly Gibson Lodge for the past 2 1/2 years, said he credits the idea of resurrecting the pool scene to his girlfriend, Harmonie Krieger. Brown said he hated seeing the pool empty, especially with a completely remodeled facility.
“We have 53 rooms, and there was no life … Now, I love coming out here and seeing people here,” he said, adding free Internet on the property allows people to chill by the pool and still get their jobs done. “We have every single type of demographic.”
The Molly pool and bar are open everyday from noon to 7 p.m., and happy hour is from 3-5 p.m., with drink and food specials that range from a burger and beer for $10, to grilled shrimp and other barbecue favorites.
Feight also remembers throwing down on many a Friday afternoon at the Jerome’s courtyard.
“We used to pack that courtyard,” Feight said. “That is just how every Friday started.
“That is what is missing these days, that vitality and melting pot of hippies, cowboys and tourists … that’s just good old fun.”
Chris Keating, the culinary director for RockResorts, which owns the Jerome, said he also was a participant in F.A.C. in the 1990s. Now, he’s part of the management team leading the renewed effort which serves up discounted beers and shots from 3-7 p.m.
“I have a perspective on it, a foggy perspective,” he laughed. “It did use to go off.”
Keating said as he watched the crowd of about 200 mingle on the kick-off evening earlier this month, he saw the newbies hanging out in the middle by the DJ booth and the old timers sitting at tables knocking back cold ones.
“I looked at a whole new generation of F.A.C.ers and then my friends,” he said. “It’s time to turn it back up.”
Keating noted that the Jerome’s pool is open to the public as well – as long as they are eating and drinking.
Over at the newly built Limelight on Monarch Street, longtime lodge owner Dale Paas and his son, Westin, also are trying to relive the old days with an “Aloha Lounge,” a Hawaiian-themed pool experience with drink specials and grilled burgers, hot dogs and chicken. The bar and grill, as well as the pool, are open to the public from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Feight said it’s refreshing to see old Aspen come alive, especially since it doesn’t have a lot of accessible riverside beaches or swimming holes.
“There’s always been a place to the let the public into a pool and have a cold brew,” he said. “We all have a need to put on a bathing suit and drink a daiquiri.
“It’s our God-given right to eat a cheeseburger and look at the latest swimsuit fashions.”
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