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Liquor sting reveals bigger problem?

Alison Miller
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY” Whiskey will stop flowing for a couple of days at The Whiskey Elk Bar.

The bar at the Park Hyatt at Beaver Creek admitted serving alcohol to minors, and had its liquor license suspended by the Board of County Commissioners for two days. The bar will have to serve the suspension within the next three months and faces a longer suspension if minors are served alcohol again.

A sting on Dec. 15 caught The Whisky Elk Bar, The Rumpus Room and Rock’s Modern Grill serving alcohol to minors, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Department said.

“The checks are a good thing because we want to make sure the proprietors of these places are following the rules and we want to keep our community safe,” Eagle County Commissioner Arn Menconi said. “Whether it’s their first violation or not, we are going to suspend your license. We took an oath to uphold the law, and serving to minors is breaking the law. It’s that simple.”

The Whiskey Elk bartender who served the minors had been trained to check identification and not overserve customers, said Scott Mason, general manager of The Park Hyatt.

All 72 food service employees have been trained, as required under county law, he said.

“The bartender has been dealt with as we deem appropriate and in accordance with Hyatt standards,” Mason said. “We have retained him as an employee, but he is not in food service any longer.”

This was the second time since 2005 Rock’s Modern Grill has been in trouble with the commissioners for serving alcohol to a minor. The Beaver Creek business was given the harshest penalty of the three, said Teak Simonton, Eagle County clerk and recorder.

The grill admitted the violation, and the commissioners banned it from selling alcohol for five days. The grill’s license could have been suspended another 9 days, but those days will not be served unless the grill has another violation within a year.

The grill will be able to decide when to serve its five-day suspension, but one of those days must be a Saturday. The suspension must occur within the next three months.

“We are aware there was a problem but do not wish to comment at this time,” said Mary Kenny, corporate public relations spokeswoman for Rock’s Modern Grill.

Bill Woodruff, manager of The Rumpus Room in Edwards, asked his case be continued and did not enter a plea.

“This is a private legal matter that we would prefer to not talk about,” Woodruff said.

Each of the managers that came to the hearing for the violations was “extremely apologetic,” Menconi said, but he hopes more will be done to prevent minors from getting alcohol.

“There was a recent survey given to us that showed Eagle County high school students as higher than average in the state for binge drinking,” Menconi said. “Heavy drinking, depression and suicide risk are higher than average for our teens, and we really need to work to curb that. What’s going on is unacceptable.”

Staff writer Alison Miller can be reached at 748-2928 or armiller@vaildaily.com.


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