Howling Wolf gets new liquor license |

Howling Wolf gets new liquor license

John Colson

Local nightclub devotees worried that one of Aspen’s main live music venues might not be in business this winter can relax – the Howling Wolf is expected to reopen Thursday night featuring a live band.

The Wolf’s management was granted a hotel and restaurant liquor license Tuesday by the Aspen Liquor Licensing Authority, after a lengthy hearing and under several conditions of operation.

The Wolf recently shut down after the Flying Dog beer brewing operation on its premises was discontinued and the brewing equipment sold off.

The Wolf’s management announced at the time that it would not be buying the brewing operation from George Stranahan, the owner of the old Flying Dog Brew Pub, which had previously occupied the Wolf’s new location at the corner of Cooper Avenue and Galena Street.

This not only meant the end of Aspen’s only brew pub operation. It also meant that the Wolf’s temporary liquor license, which was specifically applicable to a brew pub, was no longer valid, forcing the Wolf’s management to apply for a new and different kind of license.

The licensing approval is the latest chapter in a long history of difficulties between the Wolf’s management and the liquor licensing authority. The Wolf has been called before the authority on several occasion over allegations that the establishment violated city and state liquor laws, some of which involved complaints made by the Aspen Police Department.

As a result of one incident, Wolf manager Paul Levine pleaded guilty to operating the establishment without a valid liquor license. A hearing over whether to withhold a new license from the Wolf – as a result of the guilty plea – ended with an agreement by the authority to grant the bar a temporary brew pub license pending federal approval of its continued operation.

But with the end of the brewing operation on the premises, the bar’s management had no more need for the federal permit, leading to the application for the hotel and restaurant license.

The liquor board granted the new license, and ordered the Wolf’s management to pay its liquor license fee of $1,768.75 yesterday, and to pay the balance of its lease for space on the Cooper Avenue Mall ($3,014.87) by Nov. 1.

Under the provisions of the license, Levine will be the night manager of the bar, and Lynn Ericson will be the day manager.

Because a hotel and restaurant license requires that food be served on the premises, the Wolf also must submit a menu to the city clerk’s office, to be placed in the Wolf’s file.

The Wolf’s reopening on Thursday is contingent on the management’s receipt of a physical copy of its liquor license from state liquor authorities in time to post it on the premises prior to opening. Levine said a representative of the club is being sent to Denver to pick up the copy, and predicted that the club will open as scheduled.

Under the provisions of the license, Paul Levine will be the night manager of the bar, and Lynn Ericson will be the day manager.

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