State approval pending
The Crested Butte Town Council recently approved a renewal liquor license application from the Crested Butte Brewery and Grill (formerly Calypso), despite concern over the local establishment’s track record.
After reviewing the application, listening to a presentation from the bar’s owners, and a lengthy discussion, the council unanimously approved the bar’s liquor license application during a regular council meeting on Monday, December 3.
The bar’s owners, Buttoned Up Inc., opened Calypso in 2006 in the former Idle Spur Building. Calypso has since changed names to the Crested Butte Brewery and Grill.
Council members expressed concern over the bar’s citation for underage drinking and its various disturbing the peace citations, and questioned if the relatively new bar should be allowed to continue business.
Town Council member Skip Berkshire, seemingly distraught over the bar’s incidents, said he felt the bar was establishing a business practice unbecoming of Crested Butte and warned the bar’s owners that changes were needed.
“I was really excited when you first opened, but I am really concerned about all the incidents,” Berkshire said. “I am willing to give you more rope, with the understanding it’s there to hang or not hang yourself.”
Trouble for the bar began in December 2006, when it was cited for serving a minor during a wet T-shirt contest hosted by the bar. The 20-year-old female participant was charged with underage consumption and transported to a detoxification unit. The state of Colorado took action against the bar, suspending its liquor license for 15 days, from August 17 to August 31, 2007.
Luke LaPenna, vice president of Buttoned Up Inc., said the suspension was damaging for the business.
“August is one of our best months and we had to close down for 15 days and it really hurt us bad, but we wanted to pay our dues,” LaPenna said. “We should have had more control of the situation and we take full responsibility.”
During Butte Bash, a month after the first incident, five more individuals were cited for underage consumption while in Calypso. Calypso was not cited in that incident.
In March of this year, the bar was charged for showing a pornographic movie on a projection screen while alcoholic beverages were present and patrons were in the establishment. The bar was charged under the Town’s municipal code and the state of Colorado imposed a suspension on the bar as well.
Although a resolution is pending, town attorney John Belkin said it should be resolved in the next week or two.
The bar also received a citation for disturbing the peace in March and then again in July. LaPenna said the business has complied with its sanctions and is trying to look past the last year.
“We have served our suspensions, and now we would like to have the chance to continue serving the community,” LaPenna said.
The owners said they have taken several measures to prevent future incidents, including procedural changes, employee training, building upgrades and community outreach. LaPenna said they plan to enroll in the TIPS program, an alcohol awareness and ID identification course for service employees, and they plan to purchase an ID scanner.
“It’s an expense that we are willing to incur to prevent underage drinking,” LaPenna said.
The bar has also taken several steps to soundproof the building, vice president Travis Todd added. However, Town Council member Leah Williams questioned the bar’s soundproofing efforts, noting the bar received a noise complaint after the soundproofing was completed. Todd said they have seen substantial results: before construction, decibel readings exceeded 70 decibels when measured outside; now they hover around 55 decibels, which falls within the Town’s new noise ordinance regulations.
The bar’s sound-proofing efforts “have not been an end all for sure, but it has decreased the noise,” LaPenna said. “If there’s need for more to be done, then we’ll certainly do so.”
Crested Butte mayor Alan Bernholtz gave a stern warning to the owners and encouraged them to continue to soundproof the restaurant and to work to resolve issues with neighbors.
“If noise complaints continue, we won’t likely renew your license in a year from now,” Bernholtz said. “You made some serious mistakes in the beginning.”
The council approved the liquor license unanimously and now Buttoned Up Inc. will have to submit their liquor license application to the state, including a detailed explanation of incidents from the past year.