Aspen restaurateur DeGraff takes his case before City Council
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – Scott DeGraff is scheduled to appeal a denied liquor license application to the City Council at 1 p.m. Wednesday for his new restaurant, Junk Aspen, which is nearing completion in the old D19 spot.
The Aspen Liquor License Authority denied his application last month after a lengthy debate regarding DeGraff’s “moral character,” which has been sullied by a number of highly publicized arguments with contractors who say DeGraff never paid them for their work.
DeGraff defended himself against the allegations in two meetings last month by saying he has never failed to pay a legitimate debt.
During his two decades in the service industry, “I made sure my 100-plus employees never missed a payroll,” DeGraff said. “… I am a good liquor license holder, and I am very, very good operator.”
Nearly a dozen contractors and employees of the restaurateur showed up to the second hearing of his application July 20 to defend him, saying he never missed a paycheck.
But several others, including Rhonda Bazil, an attorney for valley architect Bill Poss, also spoke during the tense public debate, saying DeGraff should not be allowed to serve liquor because he owes so much money – some cite hundreds of thousands of dollars – around the community.
The license authority essentially deferred the decision to the City Council, saying they didn’t want to rule that DeGraff has bad moral character on the basis of his being mired in controversy over past deals.
Alan Feldman, DeGraff’s Aspen attorney, said during the last meeting that a denial would be a violation of DeGraff’s constitutional rights to due process because DeGraff was never advised that he would have to answer questions about past disputes with contractors.
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Pitkin County administrators are proposing a more than $142 million budget for 2020, which is about $6 million less than this year because of fewer construction projects and capital improvements.