Steamboat Springs Kevin Nerney, owner of Jade Summit restaurant and its upstairs bar, Pirate's Pub in Ski Time Square, has appealed the revocation of his liquor license and been granted a temporary injunction allowing him to serve alcohol.
"I got my liquor license back," Nerney said Wednesday. Nerney was legally allowed to serve alcohol at 3 p.m. Monday. City officials revoked his license Nov. 8.
At 1:30 p.m. Dec. 27 , a hearing will be held to determine whether a long-term stay of the city of Steamboat Springs' revocation will be granted while the appeal process plays out. The appeal was filed in Routt County District Court, but City Attorney Tony Lettunich said Chief Judge Michael O'Hara has recused himself from the case, which will be heard by District Judge Mary Hoak in Hot Sulphur Springs.
The Steamboat Springs City Council voted 3-2 on Nov. 8 to revoke Nerney's liquor license after two days of quasi-judicial hearings. The hearings were in response to allegations that Nerney made unlawful sexual contact earlier this year with a patron at his bar. Nerney was found innocent of the charges in criminal court, but the council, acting as the city's Liquor License Authority, moved forward with its own hearings and voted unanimously - using a less-stringent standard of proof - that Nerney violated state liquor codes.
At the request of Nerney's attorney, Kris Hammond, the new Steamboat Springs City Council - seated shortly after the hearings - considered staying the punishment. However, council members voted 5-2 on Dec. 4 to distance themselves from the previous council's decision and let Nerney's appeal run its course in District Court.
Hammond was out of town Wednesday.
Nerney said he was glad to have his license back before a peak holiday tourism stretch, but he said the temporary injunction will mean little if it is not upheld before the new year.
"It's cautious optimism," Nerney said.
Lettunich said Nerney filed his appeal under Rule 106, which allows appeals of quasi-judicial actions of government. Lettunich said the appeal claims the city's "decision was improper, arbitrary and capricious," but Lettunich argued otherwise.
"I think it's going to develop there was plenty of evidence," he said.
At the upcoming hearing, Lettunich said the court will base its decision on whether to uphold the stay of the city's punishment based on the apparent strength of Nerney's case. There may be testimony at that hearing, Lettunich said. In the meantime, the city is unable to enforce its revocation.
"We're staying away because we can't enforce it," Lettunich said, "but it doesn't prevent the city from its normal enforcement activities."
Nerney said business at Jade Summit and Pirate's Pub has been good this week.
"We had a great night on Monday when everyone found out," Nerney said. "It's been fantastic."
Nerney also said 125 students from Georgia Tech have rented the place out for a private party this week.