Restaurants Say They ‘Have To Make A Living’ As Colorado Suspends Liquor Licenses Over Ignored Public Health Orders

liquor , alcohol
This Dec. 25, 2018, photo shows Malibu rum and other alcohols at the Back Bowl bowling alley in Eagle, Colo. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

Colorado officials have suspended four restaurants' liquor licenses for continuing to allow indoor dining despite heightened pandemic restrictions.

The Liquor Enforcement Division announced Saturday that Parrott’s Sports Grill in Firestone, The Lyon’s Den Restaurant and Taphouse in Lyons, Bulldog Deli & Pizza in Greeley and El Charro Restaurant & Cantina in Greeley all were not in compliance with local public health orders.

The counties the restaurants are in, Boulder and Weld, are currently in the second-highest status level, color-coded red, for COVID-19 cases on the state's dial framework. In that particular severe risk category, all indoor dining at restaurants is closed.

Authorities also seized all of The Lyons Den's alcohol because the restaurant had already received multiple warnings from Boulder County enforcement officials, according to Suzi Karrer with the Liquor Enforcement Division.

The Lyons town board ultimately moved to shut down all operations at The Lyons Den. The Board of Trustees voted Monday evening to revoke both the restaurant's liquor license and business license.

Mayor Nicholas Angelo said it was a difficult decision, but that Randall Yarbrough, the business' owner, did not give him a choice. According to Angelo, Yarbrough told the board he was not willing to follow the public health rules.

"You can't ignore a government mandate," Angelo said. "We had no choice but to uphold the health order."

The board is set to hold a hearing during its Dec. 21 meeting, when the board could vote to give the business back its license. Angelo said Yarbrough could also apply for a new business license at any time.

"What it's really a matter of is whether the business owner is willing to abide by health orders," Angelo said.

El Charro in Greeley had their liquor license revoked for 15 days for seating customers indoors, but owner Kelley Chagolla said she will continue to let customers inside.

Chagolla doesn't think the state government has the right to enforce public health orders. She also said the state is unfairly targeting restaurants and small business owners.

Allowing indoor dining is the only way to pay her bills and Chagolla said it is too cold for outdoor dining.

"I don't want to lose a house," she said. "I don't want to lose my building here. I don't want to lose my health care. I have to make a living."

At least two El Charro employees have tested positive for COVID-19 so far, according to Chagolla.

The state is negotiating with all four restaurants and has not made a final decision on the future of their licenses. The suspensions could last up to 45 days.

Colorado performed 204 inspections over Thanksgiving weekend and found most businesses were compliant with state public health rules, Karrer said.

CPR News contacted Yarbrough multiple times, but he did not offer comment. Owners of the other two restaurants did not respond to CPR's calls for comment.