Chair 9

Après Revival

After The Little Nell remodeled its restaurant space and rechristened it Element 47 two years ago, a not-so-funny thing happened.

By Michael Miracle February 1, 2014 Published in the Midwinter/Spring 2014 issue of Aspen Sojourner

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What had been a consistently lively après-ski scene went quiet. Simon Chen, who returned to the Nell in November to take the GM job after a seventeen-year hiatus (see p. 30), recalls a particularly dispiriting moment: “A group of guests was here for a wedding. They came into the bar area, and there was no atmosphere. So they left.”

Chen set out to address that affront to his hotel’s legacy by converting the Nell’s Terrace Bar into Chair 9, a space meant to capture the après-ski spirit he remembers from all those years ago. Live music every day (with some acts steered Chen’s way by Belly Up’s talent scouts), sleek retro outfits for the staff, $6 pints of quality beer, $7–$9 glasses of wine, and food specials for less than $12 have achieved one of Chen’s goals—attracting a younger crowd that may become Nell clients later in life. Despite the low prices, he says, “Revenue is up there with the heyday.” But the best sign thus far of the new good-old days? “When we had an electric violinist with a DJ,” Chen says. “People were dancing on the tables.”

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