Third time’s a charm for Junk Aspen license
September 8, 2010
ASPEN – The city Liquor License Authority on Tuesday voted 3-2 in approval of Liza DeGraff’s liquor license application for her new restaurant, Junk Aspen, which will be managed by her husband, Scott DeGraff.
The approval comes after Scott DeGraff’s liquor license application was rejected twice, the first on June 20 at the hands of the license authority.
By a 3-2 vote, the authority determined at the time that Scott DeGraff’s civil court history made him unfit to run a bar and restaurant. Board members Larry Winnerman and Terry Murray, however, supported DeGraff’s application because, they said, his civil record was not relevant to the issuance of a license. At that same meeting, board chairman Bill Murphy and members Peter Helburn and Gary Esary voted against it.
Scott DeGraff appealed the matter in August to Aspen City Council. The city also denied his application, by a 3-0 vote, on the grounds that his civil court history brought into question his “moral character,” which they said was part of the consideration of approval. Court records show that a number of contractors claim Scott DeGraff did not pay them for work they had done on his Aspen home and his restaurants.
The DeGraffs’ Aspen attorney, Alan Feldman, said at the time a denial would set a bad precedent. The city would have to review future applicants’ histories just as thoroughly, he said.
But at a hearing yesterday, Liza DeGraff was able to win over the support of Helburn – who voted to deny the application in June. Helburn’s vote of approval, along with those of Winnerman and Murray, gave Liza DeGraff enough votes to secure the liquor license.
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The original application listed Scott DeGraff as the 1 percent owner of the restaurant – for tax purposes, he said – and Liza DeGraff owned the remaining 99 percent.
Scott DeGraff has owned and operated several restaurants in Pitkin County and has held three liquor licenses. He also owns several restaurants across the country.
A number of his employees and contractors showed up to previous hearings to say that DeGraff had always pays them on time. But several other contractors had asked that the license be denied because they said he still owes them money. Those concerns are being addressed in civil court.
Junk Aspen is under construction in the spot of the old D-19 restaurant on Mill Street.
Regarding his own denied application, Scott DeGraff filed a lawsuit through a Denver law firm Thursday against the Aspen Liquor License Authority and the City Council. It asks the Pitkin County District Court to invalidate the council’s decision.
The suit says the city considered evidence that wasn’t relevant to the determination of DeGraff’s moral character. It also accused the city of stepping outside its jurisdiction.