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Image: Tim Kurnos

Give Mike Goldman props for honesty. When asked how his new restaurant, the Square Grouper, will alter Aspen’s dining scene, he offers the following: “We’re trying to dumb it down a bit.”

Goldman, who has been in the restaurant business for most of his fifteen years in Aspen, thinks town needs less “cookie-cutter and formal” and more “fun and jovial.” At the Square Grouper, recently opened in the former Elevation space on Hopkins Avenue, that translates into a New Orleans–style seafood and barbecue shack whose lunch and dinner menus of po’boys, Mississippi Delta barbecue, gumbo, hush puppies, and fried oysters and okra aims to be both original and affordable. Dumbing things down? Sounds like smart business.

As for that promised fun, food’s offered until 2 a.m., there’s live music on Thursdays and Saturdays, and co-owner Jesse Wey, an ivory tickler since age five, says he’ll sidle up to the house piano routinely. Whether he can serve up Dr. John’s Gumbo remains to be seen.

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