Based on location alone, the two restaurants seem a world apart: Bonito on the sands of St. Barts; Betula flanked by snow-capped Aspen Mountain. Yet Aspen has long been compared to a secluded paradise in the Rockies, long frequented by beachgoers including owners Juan Carlos Perez Febres and chef Laurent Cantineaux. As with most Aspen stories, only under a perfect storm of circumstances did the partners find opportunity here: Hurricane Irma ravaged the Caribbean in September 2017, forcing 9-year-old Bonito closed. During renovations that would require the better part of a year, Perez Febres and Cantineaux returned to Colorado, a state they visit often, and discovered treasure at last: bb’s, which sat dark on the second floor of East Cooper Avenue after a seven-year run.
Betula—named for the genus of silver birch trees as widespread in France as aspens in North America—has planted roots. Architect-turned-restaurateur Perez Febres revamped the 2,800-square-foot space as if designing a West End Victorian cottage for the modern era. The cozy interior smacks of sea breeze: white wainscoting and crown molding; gray and beige tones with touches of cornflower blue; brass lighting over cushy banquette and table seating.
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