Local news in brief, April 20 | News


Jamil Jan Kochai’s book wins Aspen Words Literary Prize 

“The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories” by Jamil Jan Kochai was announced the winner of the 2023 Aspen Words Literary Prize on Wednesday evening.

The Aspen Words Literary Prize is a $35,000 annual award for an influential work of fiction that illuminates a vital contemporary issue and demonstrates the transformative power of literature on thought and culture.

Kochai was one of five finalists in the running for this year’s prize. There was an in-person awards ceremony held on Wednesday at The Morgan Library in New York for the author finalists. The Pitkin County Library also hosted a free watch-party event, where the ceremony was livestreamed for community members. 

“The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories” is Kochai’s latest book, a collection of short stories that explores the ghosts of war and displacement through comedy and tragedy. 

Born in an Afghan refugee camp in Peshawar, Pakistan, Kochai originally hails from Logar, Afghanistan. His short stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, among others. His debut novel, “99 Nights in Logar,” was a finalist for the Pen/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.

“The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories” was a finalist for the National Book Award and is now the sixth recipient of the Aspen Words Literary Prize.

Retail cannabis dispensary opens today in Willits

LOVA Canna Co, a new cannabis dispensary in Willits Town Center, opens today.

The dispensary is owned by Matt Shifrin, Amanda Fox Shifrin and Sean McMechen, all Roaring Fork Valley natives who have returned home to share their passion for high-quality cannabis products with their community, according to a LOVA news release. 

LOVA Canna Co is committed to providing a safe, educational and welcoming experience for all adults 21 and older, the release says. The dispensary offers a wide variety of Colorado’s best sourced and crafted cannabis products, including exceptional flower, great-tasting edibles and a wide selection of premium concentrates, cartridges, topicals, tinctures and beverages. 

“We’re not just selling cannabis — we operate from our mission; to grow plants, people and community,” said Matt Shifrin, CEO of Parent company Pioneer Interests and co-owner of LOVA Canna Co. “We believe in the power of this plant to inspire and connect us all, and we’re excited to share that passion with our guests here in our home valley.” 

In addition to providing cannabis products, LOVA is committed to supporting the local arts community. Up to 2% of LOVA Basalt’s revenue will be contributed to the local arts through its support of The Arts Campus at Willits. 

The grand opening celebration will feature giveaways, special deals, music, food and budtenders to answer all cannabis-related questions. The store is located at 0701 East Valley Road, Unit 102, Basalt CO 81621, next to the General Conoco Store at Willits Town Center.

For more information, visit lovacannaco.com.

Crepe Shack coming to downtown Aspen

Chef Mawa McQueen is adding a second location to her eatery The Crepe Shack. The forthcoming location is set to open in downtown Aspen in late May, according to a news release.

Originally from Africa’s Ivory Coast but raised in Paris, Chef Mawa drew inspiration from her years in France when developing The Crepe Shack. Located at 401 E. Cooper Ave, the new restaurant is located in the heart of the city’s core and steps away from Wagner Park, site of the Aspen Food & Wine Classic. 

The Crepe Shack Aspen will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner service. In addition to crepes, Chef Mawa will also offer a selection of homemade pastries, quiche, including vegan and gluten-free options, the release states.

On the beverage front, coffee and tea will be available from Bonfire Coffee. For those passing by, The Crepe Shack also will offer select grab-and-go options. The Crepe Shack Aspen will feature fresh, organic and locally sourced ingredients that are reminiscent of her years in Paris, with pops of international flavor, alluding to her international heritage.

“We’re very excited to be opening a second location of The Crepe Shack in the center of downtown Aspen,” McQueen said in the release. “We’ve been looking for a second space since before the pandemic and stumbled across the perfect location. We’re excited to become a place where visitors and residents can gather, dine, and catch up any hour of the day.”

Known for her creative vegetarian and vegan options, Chef Mawa will also offer a full vegan menu in addition to the regular menu. This menu will feature vegan cheese as well as vegan protein options for savory options and items like whipped coconut cream for sweet options. The crepes will all feature high-quality ingredients like organic all-purpose flour and free-range farm eggs, the release adds. 

The Aspen location will feature a small outdoor patio space with 12 French café tables that will seat 24 people. There also wll be limited indoor seating, with just eight stools along the window ledge tables.

For more information on The Crepe Shack Aspen, visit thecrepeshack.com.

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