ASPEN, Colo. (CBS4) – Workers at an iconic restaurant hope an auction helps them get their jobs back. They lost their jobs when the state shut the restaurant for not paying its taxes.
Little Annie’s Eating House in Aspen went on the auction block on Tuesday.
“Our premise was, there are 35 employees who have Christmas and have kids and have Thanksgiving, and they didn’t do anything wrong and they didn’t deserve to go out like this,” Nicos Hecht with Aspen Core Ventures said.
It was Oct. 15 when the state seized Little Annie’s because the owner hadn’t paid taxes in months, owing the state $44,000 and the city another $13,000. Employees also didn’t get paid.
“You imagine you go to work one day and you don’t get a paycheck, and the next day you go to work and the door is locked,” Hecht said. “And so it feels like you did something wrong, and you didn’t get paid to do something wrong.”
Many locals told CBS4 they didn’t love the place because it had been open more than 40 years, but it was a permanent landmark in the middle of downtown that signified what Aspen used to be.
“It’s a local spot. Every morning before we took our hikes we figured out what he’s having for lunch, so we’ve been coming here for years,” part-time Aspen resident
Christel Stueckrad said.
“It’s got a lot to do with the soul of Aspen. It’s not the houses, it’s not the money, it’s not the jets — it’s the old locals. This represents the old locals,” Hecht said.
At the auction on Tuesday everything was set to go — old golf flags, paintings, kitchen appliances, dishes, tables and chairs. But one bulk bid won out for less than what the state is owed. It allows the restaurant to reopen for the winter and will be run by all the employees before a renovation in the spring.
“We don’t have a vision that’s any different than the great restaurant it is, you give people good food that is affordable and that’s a winning combination.”
Many locals are hoping with a new lease on life it can remain the place it’s always been.