The lost art of the sports bar in Aspen

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

“Aspen is still lacking an old-fashioned hole in the wall,” Jimmy’s Wine Sommelier Perrin Wolfe said of the Aspen sports bar scene.

With the recent loss of the locals’ favorites — Cooper Street and Bentley’s — Aspen has adopted what’s been dubbed as an “ebbing bar scene.”

In attempt to fill the void, Kelly Wyly O’Donovan, daughter of successful Sam Wyly, along with husband Denis O’Donovan, plan to bring a spark to town with Finbarr’s Irish Pub and kitchen, set to open this Thanksgiving in the old Mustang space on the Hyman Avenue Mall.

With 30 t 40 menu items priced at an average between $17 and $20, Finbarr’s will strive to win the hearts of not only the sports fans, but those who are looking for an elegant dining experience with good food.

“We call it an elevated gastro pub,” said general manager Chris Munday. “We want to cater to a diversity of markets, with the obvious one being the sports crowd.”

And a sports venue it will be. Different from Zane’s, Munday describes Finbarr’s to be more “user-friendly.”

Seven satellite receivers with DVR capability will surround a horseshoe bar, allowing patrons to watch up to six games at one time, whether it be football, rugby or the World Cup.

“But sports won’t be the only focus,” added executive chef Joe Flamer, who created an après bar menu served late — night and a separate dining menu with items like braised lamb shanks and build-your-own burgers.

“We really want to fill the niche for a menu offering all-around good food,” said Munday, who is no stranger to the business.

And when it comes to atmosphere, patrons can expect a full Irish tradition, from nine beers on tap to blown up photos of Dublin on the walls.

Yet the question remains: will the luck of the Irish succeed to fill the gap in what’s known as an “ebbing bar scene?”

Fortunately for Aspen, the future looks optimistic.

Source: Amanda Charles,


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