Edwards bar can keep serving alcohol | VailDaily.com

Edwards bar can keep serving alcohol

Veronica Whitney

In a second liquor license renewal hearing for Rancho Viejo Restaurant & Bar in Edwards, Eagle County commissioners agreed Tuesday to renew the license for the restaurant owned by Hugo and Carmen Parra of Edwards.The commissioners had denied the liquor license renewal for the one-year-old restaurant on Aug. 27, saying it had been operating in an unsafe manner. Parra, however, was granted a new hearing because county officials missed a 10-day notice deadline and didn’t post the announcement of the hearing on the premises.Deputies of the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, as well as neighbors and employees of the restaurant and members of the Hispanic community, attended Tuesday’s hearing, asking the license be renewed.The commissioners agreed a renewal for another year only if the restaurant sells liquor until 10 p.m. every day – instead of 2 a.m., as it had been operating during the past year.”This is a difficult decision,” said Commissioner Arn Menconi, “because I feel we need to protect two things: The safety of the people who don’t feel safe in the neighborhood; and a gathering place of the Hispanic community.”Eagle County Liquor License Inspector Earlene Roach recommended denial of the renewal, citing a “continuing pattern of fights, violent activity and disorderly conduct at the establishment.”Parra was summoned to appear before the commissioners after several complaints and disturbances were reported since the restaurant opened last September.County Attorney Diane Mauriello listed 11 police reports:- One report concerning drugs.- Five reports of possible over-serving customers.- Two reports of underage drinking.- One parking complaint.- Two reports about noise.Roach said she spoke with Parra on three occasions about how to control his restaurant, but that didn’t work, she said.Sheriff Deputy Ross Bapke, who is assigned to the Wolcott and Edwards area, said he had had three times more calls for Rancho Viejo – also a nightclub on Fridays and Saturdays – than for other bars in the area.”In one year we did 70 bar checks on Rancho Viejo,” he said. “We did so many because there are more fights and incidents in the parking lot.”Both Bapke and Sheriff Deputy Joseph Clark said they “had seen hords of people leaving Rancho Viejo who seemed overserved.””I’ve also taken calls from neighbors complaining about loud noise,” Clark said.Parra acknowledged there had been disturbances outside his restaurant, but mainly from people who were not allowed to enter the restaurant because they were already drunk, he said.”I’ve spent too much time and money to get this business running,” he said. “I understand selling liquor is a big responsibility. Since we hired a new security person three months ago, the incidents have dropped dramatically.”Radio broadcaster Miguel Blanco of the Hispanic radio program “El Pioln” said Rancho Viejo is important for the Hispanic community because it’s the only gathering place where people can listen and dance to Latin music.”If Rancho Viejo shuts down, people will start driving again to Glenwood Springs, and that isn’t safe sometimes,” added Patricia Montes, owner of restaurants in Gypsum and Glenwood SpringsRancho Viejo, located along U.S. Highway 6 across from the Riverwalk at Edwards, is the second restaurant at the same location to have had problems with its liquor license. In March 2001, Champions’ owner Ralph Dockery lost his license to sell alcohol after commissioners ruled Carolyn Barton, 34, had been over-served there in October 2000. After leaving the bar, Barton fell off a bike path bridge and drowned in Lake Creek. According to the pathology report, she had a blood alcohol level of 0.216 at the time of her death, more than twice the state’s legal limit of 0.10.”In liquor license issues, there aren’t many second chances,” Commissioner Tom Stone told Parra. “If there’s an incident again, you can lose the license.”If Parra, or any of his employees, violates any of the conditions of the liquor license that could prompt another hearing in which he could lose the license, Roach said.”I’m terribly disappointed,” said Michael Gallagher, chairman of the Board of County Commissioners. “Last year, when they (Parras) came for the license, we thought it would be a restaurant for the Hispanic families. I hope that someone will come forward and build a restaurant for the whole community.”Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at vwhitney@vaildaily.com.

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