The party’s over for Aspen’s outdoor spaces created during COVID

Patrons of Meat and Cheese dine at their patio on East Hopkins Avenue in downtown Aspen on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

The temporary covered structures that have occupied public parking spaces in downtown Aspen since the pandemic began nearly two years ago will be a thing of the past come spring.

Aspen City Council agreed on Tuesday that those structures, which include the chalet built as an extension of the French Alpine Bistro, La Crêperie du Village at the corner of Mill Street and Hopkins Avenue, must be demolished by May.

This also goes for structures outside of the Meat and Cheese restaurant and Kemo Sabe.



These temporary uses were part of the city’s restaurant activation program to support the local business community during the challenges presented by COVID-19.

The program was originally established in 2020 as a strategy to “work proactively and quickly to minimize further economic disruption and actively encourage its recovery,” according to a note from Hailey Guglielmo, senior city project manager at the Department of engineering.



She elaborated for the council on Tuesday during its working session.

“Each season the program has been slightly modified to meet current public health orders and also bring vitality to Aspen,” she said.

City Engineer Trish Aragon has described it as a living lab experiment over the past two years.

“We were able to experience our roads in a new way and reclaimed our parking spots for restaurant and retail activation,” she said. “We also redesigned our public amenity spaces with restaurants and enclosed spaces, as well as our sidewalks. … Now this two-year living lab has come to an end, and we need to think about what we want to make permanent and what parts of the program need to expire.

Council members said they favor removing temporary covered structures because they don’t meet energy codes or commercial design standards.

Aspen City Council decided on Tuesday that covered outdoor seating occupying parking lots in downtown Aspen will not continue through the summer. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

However, a majority of council agreed to allow temporary structures to remain on private property if they mitigate the effects in accordance with the city’s land use code.

These properties include places like Ajax Tavern, Local Coffee House, and Jing.

The Council also agreed to continue to allow activations of uncovered areas in public car parks, including the Spring Café and Poppycock’s.

Dedicated parking spaces for people coming to restaurants for takeout will continue, as will outdoor dining on sidewalks in the summer as long as it does not impede pedestrian traffic.

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