Steamboat night club faces possible fines, liquor license suspension
Steamboat Springs — The city of Steamboat Springs could fine or temporarily suspend a liquor license for a downtown dance bar because of two alleged alcohol violations that occurred at the venue in the spring.
Police officers said they observed alcohol being consumed at Schmiggity’s after hours March 22, and patrons drinking outside of the establishment April 8.
The violations will be discussed Thursday afternoon at a rare hearing in front of the city’s liquor license compliance division.
If the violations are confirmed, Schmiggity’s could face a suspension of its license for as many as 15 days or have to pay fines.
It would be a first offense for the bar.
The city’s enforcement process is separate from the routine checks done by the state’s Department of Revenue.
Schmiggity’s co-owner Kim Haggarty said Tuesday she has taken several steps since the violations occurred to prevent them from happening in the future.
On Monday, employees at Schmiggity’s and at several other local bars attended training led by a representative from the Department of Revenue’s Liquor Enforcement Division.
The bar in recent months has also increased its door staff, hired a new head of security and put an alarm on the back door, so no patrons can step outside and consume alcohol without alerting staff.
Other changes that have been made to increase safety include new cameras and equipment that allows security guards and staff to talk to each other.
Haggarty said the bar is also looking into obtaining an ID scanner to better detect false or invalid IDs.
“I get it, I do,” Haggarty said of the police department’s concerns about the violations. “I want to run a really good establishment and have a good night life in Steamboat. It’s hard. It’s hard to find a balance.”
She attributed one of the violations, in which an officer saw a patron consuming alcohol outside, to the difficulty of educating patrons about the city’s alcohol rules.
Police Chief Cory Christensen said the police department has been working in a positive manner with the owners of the establishment. He said the two violations at Schmiggity’s occurred after officers had frequently talked to bar employees about previous violations.
“After-hour service is a pretty big deal,” Christensen said. “Those are pretty blatant.”
Christensen said several residents have also approached him claiming many of the city’s liquor license establishments are “out of control.”
“I wouldn’t classify any of them as out of control, but I do have officers working in the evening going to these establishments, not just downtown, and doing compliance checks and talking to employees about signage and safety and offering classes,” Christensen said.
He said the police department hasn’t taken a heavy-handed approach to enforcement and instead promotes education for bar owners and employees.
The last time the city took a liquor license holder in front of its compliance division for possible punishment was in January 2013.
At that hearing, the owner of Carl’s Tavern was given a five-day suspension of his license after officers witnessed a bartender serve someone who was just hours shy of his or her 21st birthday.
The city allowed the bar to pay fines instead of serving some of that suspension.
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