Police, downtown business owners and local bars will be working to curb over-serving this winter. Bar owners like Melissa Baker say that establishments such as Old Town Pub, shown here, are working toward creating a thriving nightlife with a safe environment.

Photo by John F. Russell

Police, downtown business owners and local bars will be working to curb over-serving this winter. Bar owners like Melissa Baker say that establishments such as Old Town Pub, shown here, are working toward creating a thriving nightlife with a safe environment.

Police, downtown Steamboat bars discuss ways to curb over-serving


— Steamboat Springs police plan to increase bar checks this winter with the hopes of curbing over-serving and the accompanying drunken debauchery.

Capt. Jerry Stabile said the issue was discussed last month with a group of downtown business owners, transit officials and others with a stake in ensuring downtown is a safe place for visitors to dine, drink and be entertained. The group is called the Hospitality Resource Panel, which Stabile said has a goal of building partnerships.

“We all know we are in it together,” Stabile said. “They’re supportive, and they realize the liability as well.”

Mainstreet Steamboat Springs General Manager Tracy Barnett said people being over-served alcohol was identified as a priority for the group to tackle. The Mainstreet group includes several bar representatives. Barnett said there is a sense among some people that the issue with people getting too drunk or mixing alcohol with prescription drugs is more prevalent these days.

“We’re trying to get ahead of the game by being more diligent,” Barnett said.

Stabile said actual statistics compiled by the police department show officers deal with a high volume of calls that involve people who have been drinking. Between Jan 1. and Oct. 31 of this year, there were 273 total calls that involved drunken people. There were 91 DUIs and 88 cases of people being taken into protective custody, which mainly involves people being taken to detox at the Routt County Jail.

Melissa Baker, owner of The Tap House Sports Grill and Old Town Pub, said Wednesday that she and other bar owners have taken steps to maintain a safe environment.

“We’re all working toward the same thing,” Baker said. “We all want a thriving nightlife with a safe environment.”

At her bars, the employees now have radios they can use to communicate and warn one another about potential problems. The radios proved useful just Tuesday night after a man got kicked out of the Tap House and walked straight over to the Old Town Pub.

“He didn’t even get in the door because we knew he was trouble,” Baker said.

There is talk of implementing a communication system throughout the downtown bars.

The issue of over-serving is a little more difficult to tackle.

“I don’t think there is any bartender in town that would serve someone start to finish until they are face down,” Baker said.

She said it is sometimes hard to tell how drunk someone is or is about to get. For example, someone could have just finished several strong drinks at another bar, and the alcohol has yet to cause significant impairment.

Stabile acknowledged the difficulties, and how it can be hard for a bartender to know how much someone has had to drink or how many pills they took before coming to the bar.

Stabile said the police department is taking a proactive approach to the issue.

“Classic community policing is identifying a problem, getting feedback from all the players and coming up with logical solutions,” Stabile said.

Baker said she does not think drunkenness is necessarily a bigger problem downtown. She said problems and incidents might actually be on the decline because of an increased police presence downtown and a dedicated officer assigned to the beat.

She said she will continue to express to her employees the importance of not serving anyone too much alcohol.

According to Steamboat Police Detective Josh Carrell, Colorado law states it is illegal for a liquor establishment to serve someone who is visibly intoxicated or to serve habitual drunkards. A person has to be classified as a habitual drunkard by a judge, and Carrell never has heard of that happening here.

Stabile said Colorado’s Liquor Enforcement Division went undercover and did one check during the fall to look for people being over-served in Steamboat. There were no violations.

He warned there will be more checks this winter.

“If we can get 30 percent of the establishments that serve alcohol to be a little more educated, that’s pretty impactful,” Stabile said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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Joey Bowman 3 years, 5 months ago

I'm all for it and think the training is importing but also the owners and bartenders need to practice what one may preach. Maybe we should go with a one drink limit. In Colorado the average persons would get DWAI after two drinks.


Cresean Sterne 3 years, 5 months ago

This is an old concept that can help. In Oak Creek we used to work as a team with Black Mnt, Big Tunas, Chelsies and the Colorado Bar. If someone was cut off at my establishment and vice versa, a phone call was made to Doug Diamond, the Benjamins or Jay & Becky to expect that person to show up down the street at their bar. And sure enough, they almost always would.. Oak Creek is small and most people know each other here so this worked ok.. Steamboats bar scene during the holidays are standing room only with most customers being from out of town. A large group may not be that difficult but it will be hard to notify other bars about a paticular person or two when a server is scrambling all night. They need to focus more on nipping it in the but and cutting someone off before it becomes a problem. A lot of over serving is because of money, friends of a server or the server does not know how to handle it correctly and is not paying attention. Servers need costant reminders that they are now held resposible for overserving as well as the consequences of the customer after they leave the establishment. Ski towns have always been known as a place to go out and have a nice one and as sad as it is to see the Tugger closed down, dispatch calls to police will probably be cut back some. Alpine taxi drivers are probably happy they dont have to deal with the drunken fiasco in ski time square this winter as well.. LOL..


john bailey 3 years, 5 months ago

ya'll want em downtown , what do you think is gonna happen, you got no drinking problem you got a drunk problem......hum go figure.....I like johns bar best......


jerry carlton 3 years, 5 months ago

Give them free joints in the bar and allow smoking joints in the bar. Then you will have a bunch of mellow drunks that will buy a lot of food. At least that is what I have read in this forum in the past. I can not say as I have never smoked anything in the past. Sucking hot gasses down my throat or nasal passages into my lungs never sounded like a good idea to me .


rhys jones 3 years, 5 months ago

Jerry -- Who brought up joints? But now that you mention it, you have a valid point. They cancel each other out. Smoke a joint per drink, and you stay as sober as a judge.

You are also correct that God's tonic should be free. There are alternate forms of ingestion, to include edibles; different, yet no less effective.

Re/this bar talk: That's all this is, people flapping their gums, like we pay them to do.

You in AZ yet? No Altitude or NBATV? It's Nuggets time!! Clippers. I really don't like Blake Griffin.


jerry carlton 3 years, 5 months ago

Rhys I was just trying to come up with a way to increase the sales tax on food and drink without having to arrest the drunks. I have sold out to the chamber and city idea of increase the sales tax any way they can. I like the idea of a pot brownie with every drink. Then we will not have to subject non-smokers to second hand smoke.

I have seen the Nuggets a couple times. I do not think they will have as good of season as last year. Broncos were slow finishing the Texans today but finally got the job today. One more win against an inept Raider team and the road to the Superbowl goes through Denver and Seattle!


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