The Wienerstube Restaurant will once again serve schnitzel, bratwurst and other authentic Austrian cuisine but in Basalt rather than Aspen.
Vladan Djordjevic and Nemanja Ilic are teaming to reopen the venerable restaurant, which operated in Aspen for 45 years but closed in January 2011. The building where it rented space was demolished to make way for the Aspen Art Museum. Then-owner Harald Neuweg wasn’t able to find an affordable alternative site.
The new Wienerstube, the “Stube” to many fans, will open in a 3,000-square-foot space on Market Street in Willits Town Center, between Capitol Creek Brewery and Mezzaluna and across the street from The Temporary, a venue for music, film and plays.
“It’s a great story to tell about how an Aspen icon found its way downvalley,” said Tim Belinski, the local representative for the Willits developer.
Djordjevic was part of the team credited with restoring the Wienerstube’s Austrian flavor. He came with chef Harald Neuweg to Aspen from Coral Gables, Florida, in April 2008. Neuweg bought the restaurant in September of that year.
The Wienerstube celebrated its demise with a three-night blowout in January 2011 but Djordjevic kept the dream alive of resurrecting the restaurant. He remained in Aspen in the restaurant business, most recently as a partner in Aspen Over Easy, a popular breakfast joint that closed this fall after a six-year run. Ilic, owner of the Little Mammoth steak house in Snowmass Village, shared Djordjevic’s passion to reopen the Stube.
It’s not right to have a ski resort without a Bavarian-influenced restaurant, Ilic said. Vail and other resorts all have one, he noted.
The Stube won’t be resurrected in name only. The partners have original signs from the restaurant, including what appears to be a vintage 1960s sign telling patrons to wait to be seated.
They have the stained-glass windows that separated the dining room from the entry. They have wood paneling from the walls. They even have original coffee cups.
Neuweg shipped all the items to Florida, where they have been in storage.
“I helped load all the stuff,” Djordjevic said. “We’ve got almost everything.”
The restaurant is reopening with his support and blessing.
“While I wish Wienerstube could have remained in Aspen I am very happy and excited you are opening it in Basalt,” Neuweg wrote in a letter to the new partners. “With the rental prices a bit out of control, I do understand your decision.”
They asked Neuweg to help them with the opening next spring. He said he is digging up the old menus, wine lists, artwork and pictures to be returned to their rightful place.
Several members of the Stube’s kitchen staff worked at Aspen Over Easy and the partners hope to bring them back. Servers will wear dirndls, the traditional dress worn in Austria, South Tyrol and Bavaria that were a staple of waitresses at the Stube for most of its history.
In addition to reviving most of the Stube’s menu, they will display high-quality steaks and other dry meats that diners can select for cooking. German and Austrian beers will be served in Das Boot steins.
The community table, where individuals can join for company and conversation, will be brought back. And one of the loyalist customers at the Wienerstube, Klaus Obermeyer, will receive a special welcome. Djordjevic said Obermeyer, who celebrated his 98th birthday earlier this month, was given lifetime free breakfast some years ago. That will be reinstituted, he said.
The restaurant will go into a vacant space that has never been built out. Ilic said he looks forward to creating the kitchen, wine bar and dining room from scratch. They intend to open in spring, definitely for the summer season.
Djordjevic said they searched for a space in Aspen.
“It’s my town. I love it, but the rent is too expensive there,” he said.
Willits is relatively new, has a vibrant feel and continues to expand, he added.
Belinski said Market Street is evolving into the second restaurant row at Willits Town Center. That’s helped attract new retail shops.
“It’s the new wave of Willits energy,” he said.