Skico to replace Sam’s Knob Restaurant for $9 million |

Skico to replace Sam’s Knob Restaurant for $9 million

SNOWMASS ” The Aspen Skiing Co. won’t replace any chairlifts this year, but that doesn’t mean they’re holding tight to the purse strings.

The Skico has budgeted $9 million to replace the Sam’s Knob Restaurant at Snowmass Ski Area. “We’re scheduled and hoping to start construction on April 17,” said spokesman Jeff Hanle.

The 7,800-square-foot facility will open in December, if all goes as planned. The Skico is anxious to open a full restaurant again at one of the highest-traffic areas for skiers and riders at Snowmass. Both the Village Express six-passenger chairlift out of the base and the Sam’s Knob quad chairlift dump skiers and riders at the top of the Knob.

The Skico has lost the golden opportunity to feed the throngs there for the last three seasons. The old, outdated restaurant was demolished in spring 2005.

The Skico’s plan to open a new restaurant for the 2007-08 were derailed when the White River National Forest staff concluded in June 2006 that the Skicos’ proposed design was “too contemporary and modern” for the federal agency’s design standards.

The Skico was forced to scrap plans for a 250-seat, 13,000-square-foot restaurant and scale it back. The new restaurant will seat about 160 people inside and another 50 when outdoor decks can be used. Seating will be on one floor.

The main dining room will feature sit-down service by a wait staff. “It’s meant to get you in and out quickly,” Hanle said. The restaurant will feature a barbecue-style smokehouse, but a variety of food will be available.

There will be no cafeteria-style service like at the old Sam’s Knob or like at many other ski area restaurants. However, the new facility will have a dedicated espresso bar where skiers and riders can hang out on cold mornings and enjoy a warm drink.

The restaurant design will feature a wall of windows on the west side that provide spectacular views of Garret’s Peak, Mount Daly and the surrounding backcountry.

Hanle said roads will be plowed immediately after Snowmass’ ski season ends April 13 so that men, materials and equipment can access the site. The abundance of snow won’t make the job easy, but it cannot be delayed.

“We’re going to need every minute,” he said.

The Skico has a handful of chairlift replacement projects on its “to-do” list. It wants to replace the ancient Sheer Bliss double chair on the east side of the Big Burn. In addition, the Big Burn high-speed quad chairlift, part of the first generation of high-speed detachable lifts, needs an overhaul or replacement.

In addition, the Skico’s master plan for Buttermilk calls for the replacement of the two, slow Tiehack chairlifts with one quad.

David Perry, Skico senior vice president ” mountain division, said those lift projects aren’t in the capital budget for this summer.

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