Nightclub can remain open | AspenTimes.com

Nightclub can remain open

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The unnamed nightclub that replaced the Roaring Fork Tavern will be allowed to continue operations under a temporary liquor license, though it violated the city’s fire code on New Year’s Eve.

The Aspen Liquor Licensing Authority tabled club operator Jeremy Guterman’s application for a transfer of the tavern’s license on Tuesday, but agreed a temporary license issued for the club could be extended until the liquor board convenes again March 2. That license was set to expire yesterday.

Before the board takes up Guterman’s application next month, it wants more information about the principal investors in 217 S. Galena LLC, which has a six-year lease for the space. The company has subleased the club to Guterman through April 2005.

The board also promised further discussion in March of the club’s overcrowding on New Year’s Eve. When the fire marshal’s office cleared the basement premises at about 12:30 a.m. on the holiday, 131 patrons exited the club, more than double its assigned maximum of 59 people, according to Fire Marshal Ed Van Walraven.

“That, to me, was a big problem,” he told the board.

Guterman took the blame for the violation, which apparently occurred when patrons began entering the club through its rear fire exit after they were turned away at the front door.

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“It won’t happen again,” Guterman said. “It was simply my error.”

He has been summoned to appear in Aspen Municipal Court for the violation on Feb. 11.

Board member Steve Goldenberg voted against tabling the license application and allowing the club to remain open with a temporary license.

“They violated a very serious law,” he said. “There could have been a fire. We should be thankful nothing happened.

“I think it’s really wrong that they even got a temporary, with hindsight.”

The city clerk’s office issued a temporary license, effective Dec. 30 to Jan. 4. Another temporary license was issued so the club could be open for the Winter X Games and Gay Ski Week, which ended Sunday. Its permitted occupancy has been upped to 80 people.

If the club had already been granted a liquor license, suspending it would be a valid response to the violation, said board member Gary Esary.

That’s an action the board could still consider in March, he said.

“We can grant them a license and suspend it that same day. That’s an option,” Esary said.

Guterman, who briefly operated the former Mecca nightclub, has not given a name to his new venture. He said he’s considering a members-only nightspot that patrons will find on a need-to-know basis.

“If we can do a private club down there, if it’s viable, we may go that route,” he told the board.

The club has been operating during the late-night hours with music provided by a DJ, but Guterman said he wants to move up the club’s opening to 7 or 8 p.m. It will have a lounge-type atmosphere during the early evening, he said.

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com]

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