Liquor restrictions dropped at Edwards bar
When Hugo Parra opened the Rancho Viejo Restaurant and Bar in Edwards three years ago, he got a little more than he bargained for.Problems with over-serving customers, selling alcohol to minors and noise complaints led to a less-than favorable report when the restaurant’s liquor license was up for renewal. While a new liquor license was granted soon after the first was revoked, Rancho Viejo had restrictions. The restaurant had to agree to stop selling liquor by 10 p.m. every day. That’s been the case since 2002. But not anymore. The Eagle County Board of Commissioners, acting as the county’s liquor licensing authority, granted Rancho Viejo a full liquor license, allowing the restaurant to serve alcohol until 2 a.m.”I’ve learned a lot since then,” Parra told the commissioners. “I learned what you guys expect from a bar that sells liquor.”The Mexican restaurant, located across from Riverwalk in Edwards on U.S. Highway 6, took the place of the defunct Champion’s Bar and Grill, which encountered liquor license problems of its own. That bar was investigated several years ago after a customer was found dead in the Eagle River after attempting to ride her bike home from the restaurant. The bar was accused of serving the woman too much alcohol. But Rancho Viejo hasn’t had a negative mark on its liquor license renewal since that first year. Parra’s attorney, Dan Wolf, argued during Tuesday’s hearing that the restrictions placed on Rancho Viejo were illegal anyway. He added that the county commissioners only had the authority to grant or deny license, not to place conditions upon issuing liquor licenses.”There is, we believe, no factual basis for the restrictions to stay in place,” Wolf said.The county’s attorneys disagreed with that legal interpretation. But the commissioners, apparently pleased by the restaurant’s clean record over the past few years, unanimously granted the bar a full liquor license that will allow it to serve alcohol until 2 a.m.”That location has had a tough history and we had high hopes it would be cleaned up,” said Commissioner Tom Stone. “We were disappointed when that was not the case, but things seem to be remediated.”The restaurant closes at 10 p.m. but Parra plans to keep the restaurant open until 2 a.m. with a full liquor license. He told commissioners he would stop serving alcohol at 1:30 a.m. with the new liquor license and would likely continue serving appetizers after 10 p.m. as well.Commissioner Michael Gallagher wanted to know how Parra managed to stop the problems that were occurring the first year. Parra said he had his employees check for identification when verifying a customer’s drinking age and he had stopped hosting events at the restaurant that he believed were the source of some of the noise complaints.Staff writer Tamara Miller can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 949-0555, ext. 607.