Aspen nightclub slapped for violation |

Aspen nightclub slapped for violation

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The new Galena Street nightclub that packed in too many patrons for its New Year’s Eve debut was dealt a suspended penalty Tuesday by the Aspen Liquor License Authority.

Club operator Jeremy Guterman was granted a liquor license yesterday for his new nightclub at the former Roaring Fork Tavern. Immediately after approving the license transfer from the old tavern business, the liquor board voted to suspend the license for seven days, but agreed to suspend the suspension.

If the club, which currently has no name (but that’s about to change), is cited for any further life-safety violations before Jan. 2, 2005, the board will impose the seven-day alcohol ban during a time of its choosing.

The club had been assigned a maximum occupancy of 59 people for its opening, but authorities cleared 131 patrons from the club at about 12:30 a.m. on the holiday night.

“As far as I see it, there was not even the slightest attention paid to the agreed upon occupancy,” said board member Steve Goldenberg, who cast the sole vote against the license transfer. “A 10-year-old kid could have seen there were more than 59 people there.”

“On that night, there were definite life-safety problems,” said Ed Van Walraven, Aspen’s fire marshal.

“I do think human lives were in jeopardy on this night,” agreed liquor board member Gary Esary. He proposed the suspended suspension, however, noting Guterman has accepted responsibility for the incident.

Guterman pleaded guilty to the violation in municipal court last month and paid a $150 fine. He was granted a deferred judgment, meaning the charge will be dismissed in a year if there are no further municipal or criminal violations.

The club, which has been operating under a temporary liquor license, has not violated its occupancy limit ” now set at 80 people ” since New Year’s Eve, according to Van Walraven. The city’s building department has agreed the club can accommodate up to 99 people if it adds another stall in the women’s restroom.

In the meantime, Guterman has decided it’s time the club at 215 S. Galena St. had a name. He said he’ll host a “grand opening” on Tuesday, March 9, and let patrons cast ballots to endorse one of various proposed names for the establishment.

“The no-name club now has a name … we just don’t know what it is yet,” he said.

Also, the club wants its fish back. Spencer, a Siamese fighting fish, was swiped last weekend, along with his fishbowl. Guterman says he’s offering a $500 reward for the fish’s return.

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