Businesses fail compliance check

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— Three Steamboat Springs businesses failed an alcohol compliance check Friday evening and now face penalties including fines and the suspension or loss of liquor licenses.

Friday's more sobering results came just one month after local stores and restaurants achieved 100 percent compliancy during a random Steamboat Springs Police Department alcohol compliance check in December.

The businesses that failed Friday's check were Rex's American Grill & Bar, Arctic Liquors and City Market.

Safeway, Ski Haus Liquor, Market on the Mountain, Jade Summit Pirate's Pub, Cugino's Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant, Mazzola's and Three Peaks Grill passed the alcohol compliance check Friday.

Police Capt. Joel Rae called Friday's results "disappointing," and he vowed the police department would continue to target businesses that sell alcohol to minors.

"Obviously we're not happy," Rae said. "We got 100 percent (compliancy) last time and now we're back to 70 (percent). It is still concerning that underage kids can walk into certain establishments and be served or sold alcohol."

Four underage teenagers were used during Friday's compliance checks, including an 18-year-old woman, a 17-year-old girl and two 19-year-old men.

The owners of the establishments that failed the compliance check were cited and are scheduled to appear before the Steamboat Springs City Council for a probable cause hearing in March. The council is the city's Liquor License Authority, and has increased the penalties for businesses caught selling alcohol to minors by implementing a new hearings process.

The clerks or servers who served or sold the alcohol to the minors also were cited, but their cases will be handled through the Routt County Court system.

City Clerk Julie Jordan said this is the first citation for City Market and Rex's American Grill & Bar. It is the third offense for Arctic Liquors.

Arctic Liquors was cited for failing a compliance check in January 2005 and September 2005. Ownership of the liquor store changed after the store received its first citation, she said.

The city's ordinance regarding liquor license suspensions and revocations indicates that punishment for a third offense "be decided on a case-by-case basis" with a minimum liquor license suspension of 15 days. The maximum punishment is revocation of the liquor license.

Donald Wasko, owner of Arctic Liquors, said he had not spoken to the employee who sold the alcohol to the minor, and did not know specifically what happened.

Wasko noted that the store has been cited only twice under current ownership and hoped the city would treat the failure as a second offense because he did not own Arctic Liquors in January 2005.

"I would hope that's how they'd treat it, but I don't know," he said.

- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234

or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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