DeGraff (not him, her) seeking liquor license in Aspen
August 27, 2010
ASPEN – Scott DeGraff, the restaurateur who was denied a liquor license application last month after undergoing thorough scrutiny by city officials, may get the right to sell alcohol at his new restaurant, Junk Aspen, after all.
His wife Liza DeGraff, who previously owned the company in charge of the building of the new operation, applied for a new liquor license last Friday in her husband’s stead, said Kathryn Koch, Aspen city clerk.
When Scott DeGraff applied for the license last month, under much scrutiny from contractors who say he has not paid them for work on his restaurants and his Aspen mansion, he owned 1 percent of the limited liability company that owned the operation.
Liza DeGraff owned the rest.
The City Council, in its decision last month, denied DeGraff the liquor license, citing his questionable character based on several legal disputes in DeGraff’s past.
DeGraff attorney Alan Feldman said during the meeting Aug. 4 that the denial would violate DeGraff’s constitutional rights. That is because nowhere in the liquor license application does it say that civil history would be a part of the consideration that would decide his right to the license, Feldman said.
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During the hearing, Mayor Mick Ireland said there was evidence to suggest that DeGraff’s moral character is questionable. Ireland cited a civil lawsuit from nearly a decade ago in Illinois in which a court found DeGraff had filed fraudulent affidavits.
DeGraff is entangled in legal battles between his company and several local contractors who say he has not paid them fully for their work. He rebutted that he has paid every legitimate bill owed, while some of the bills were for work that he said was incomplete or unsatisfactory.
“I … believe that when someone gives you a bill and you don’t believe that bill is right, you don’t pay that bill,” DeGraff said last month.
Feldman warned the City Council that a denial would set a precedent that any applicants involved in litigation would have to be examined just as thoroughly.
DeGraff has been awarded three licenses in Colorado over the past five years, including for Liquid Sky, a restaurant in Snowmass that closed along with a number of other embattled service industry projects in Base Village.
Several contractors and employees of DeGraff have spoken on his behalf during hearings, including Wednesday’s, saying he has always paid in full.
Carter Sheriff, the owner of Rocky Mountain Woodworking, which is building the nearly completed Junk Aspen at the old D19 spot, said Wednesday that all of his employees have been paid on time “every Friday.”