The Side Dish: Me and the Molly Gibson

 

At the conclusion of my long weekend at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, where alcohol plus altitude equated to a grumpy writer, I arrived at the Aspen Airport on Sunday evening to board my flight home. As I entered the airport, I noticed the Frontier desk was the only place with a line twenty people deep. When the cheerful little check-in computer screen told me I had to ‘talk to a gate representative’, I knew I might be in trouble. Standing in line, I watched as a fellow traveler threw his hands to his head and began hitting it lightly on the counter. This can’t be good.

When I finally arrived in front of the disheveled gate agent, she informed me that the last flight out of Aspen was delayed by an hour, and with only a half hour until my connecting flight, she suggested I could take my travels into my hands and risk being stranded at the Denver Airport.

Luckily that morning, I had logged on to Twitter, and noticed that a local lodge, the Molly Gibson, had tweeted a ‘$99 recovery special’ for guests staying in Aspen after the Classic. After rescheduling my flights for the next day, and thanking the gate agent profusely for remaining calm and friendly, I smiled at my less-informed linemates and made a beeline for the taxi area. Within fifteen minutes, I had a reservation at the Molly Gibson.

Though my extra night and day in Aspen was unscheduled, it was, perhaps, the best part of the weekend. After spending money on airport shuttles previously, it was great to have a free shuttle to and from the Molly Gibson. That evening, I had the spectacular gnocchi at Campo di Fiori. And the next morning, I enjoyed a hearty (and reasonably priced) breakfast at the Wienerstube and a fantastic BLT from the Grateful Deli before finally making my way back to the Aspen Airport.

My extra stay reminded me of just how much I love the little guys.

I can hobnob with the best of them – the Colicchios, the Flays, the St. Regis crowd – but after running the catering business, I still really identify with ‘the staff’, the neighborhood folks who make the difference. It’s the off-season snowboard instructor driving the all-night shuttles around town. It’s the tiny, hole-in-the-wall sandwich maker with the line out the door. It’s the still-smiling catering staff bussing the half eaten fois gras or the friendly brothers running the little local lodges who are willing to grab you a fork from the kitchen at 11pm so you don’t have to eat your tiramisu with your hands.

My point being that even though I love the food festivals and the famous chefs and the exquisite, elaborate plates of food, I’m always reminded of the worker bees and the small business owners who are really putting in the hard work and effort it takes to clean up, set up, tear down, and go that extra mile to make the day more enjoyable.

So, my many, many thanks to the wonderful staff at the Molly Gibson, to the Lexus shuttle drivers, to the great sandwich makers at the Grateful Deli. To all the small business owners and worker bees across the board.

You make the world go round.

~Jennifer Heigl

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