If you weren’t one of the hordes of travelers who made your way to Europe this summer and seethed with jealousy every time you scrolled Instagram, a new coffee bar in town, Sant Ambroeus, located at 520 E. Hyman, may help fill that longing for long, slow lunches made for catching up with friends.
The first things that hit you as you approach Sant Ambroeus are the tables organized outside and servers dressed in white, ready to take your order, as they would in any sidewalk café in any number of European cities, especially Milan.
Director of operations, Federica Pauli confirmed that’s exactly the point.
“We wanted to bring a different kind of coffee and breakfast culture to Aspen,” she said. “In America, the morning is so fast-paced. People want to grab and go to work. We wanted to have a space where people can come and understand European culture. It’s nice for people who have the time to be able to sit, enjoy the beautiful space, and take their time with what they’re eating and drinking. It’s something different.”
Beautiful interiors and high-quality food are the standard for all of Sant Ambroeus’ coffee bar and restaurant locations. The original coffee bar dates to 1936 Milan, located near the legendary opera house, Teatro La Scala. The brand expanded to New York City’s Madison Avenue in 1982. It now boasts several locations in Manhattan, two in the Hamptons, and one in Palm Beach.
Their newest endeavor in Aspen opened on June 16. Pauli said that a typical Sant Ambroeus location usually includes a bakery and coffee bar in the front and a more formal restaurant in the back. Because it was so hard to find a space big enough in Aspen to accommodate that plan, the company decided to split up the spaces opening the coffee bar first at the E. Hyman location.
“Being able to open the cafe before the restaurant was a good introduction to the town because it’s more accessible and not so overwhelming and intimidating,” she said. “We have a lot of brand recognition with a lot of tourists who come to town, but for the locals and people who had never heard of our brand before, it was a nice, soft introduction. They see what we can do, they see the quality of the product we have, and it just builds excitement for the potential of the restaurant, next year.”
For her, planting roots here is also personal. Raised in New York, she relocated to Aspen seven years ago to be closer to her older sister and her family. She has found the alpine lifestyle suits her and is happy to call Aspen home.
Most days, you can find her at the coffee bar greeting and helping customers and said in the two months that they have been open, she has noticed more regulars who spend time there daily enjoying coffee and pastry for breakfast, as well as their selection of spritzes, panini, salads, and other savory dishes for lunch.
“I moved out here, and it was love at first sight, and haven’t left since,” she said. “The community here is so special because most people who are drawn to a place like Aspen, we’re all here for similar reasons: to be in nature, to enjoy the lifestyle, and to make deep connections with the people in this small, tight community. I wanted to share something that was a part of me with this town that’s my home now.”
For menu and operating hours: santambroeus.com/pages/location-aspen
Sarah Girgis | The Aspen Times | August 20, 2023