Wolf liquor license subject of hearing | AspenTimes.com

Wolf liquor license subject of hearing

John Colson

One of Aspen’s most popular nightclubs may find itself without a liquor license after Tuesday morning.

The management of the Howling Wolf has been ordered to appear before the city’s liquor licensing authority Tuesday to “show cause” as to why the city should not shut them down for a violation of local laws.

Howling Wolf manager Paul Levine pleaded guilty earlier this year to selling liquor without a valid liquor license.

The charges stemmed from the Wolf’s “Bar Backers Ball” on April 17, celebrating the relocation of the bar and restaurant from its original location to the former site of the Flying Dog Brew Pub.

Levine has said he believed he was able to operate the bar under the license of the Flying Dog until the license could be transferred to the Wolf, but there is no provision for that kind of arrangement in Colorado’s or Aspen’s liquor codes.

Levine, acting on behalf of Wolf owners Steve and Robert Murdock, pleaded guilty to the municipal charge and was sentenced to a one-year “deferred judgment,” meaning if the bar did not violate any liquor codes for one year, the plea agreement and the charge would be wiped off the establishment’s record.

That plea agreement is the basis for the “show cause” hearing before the liquor licensing authority on Tuesday.

“The purpose of the hearing is to further investigate the alleged liquor code violation and to determine if further action is necessary,” according to the “notice of order to show cause” issued to Levine and the Howling Wolf.

According to the notice, the liquor board has a number of options in making a finding at the end of the hearing. The board can deem the matter “adequately resolved” to its satisfaction; it could issue warnings to the establishment and the management; or it could suspend or revoke the Howling Wolf’s liquor license.

The city and the Howling Wolf had been at odds before this latest matter arose. Police and Levine have clashed over a variety of issues, including allegations that the bar has served liquor to patrons after hours and in unlicensed areas of the premises at the Wolf’s old location on Hopkins Avenue.

Another controversy erupted over the Wolf’s policy of staying open after 2 a.m. to give revelers a place to go after the other bars in town shut down. The city liquor board noted that the Wolf’s liquor supplies and beer dispensers were not adequately locked away after 2 a.m., as required by state law, which was another violation of the liquor codes that angered local officials.

In order for the Wolf to get a temporary liquor license at its new location, pending the outcome of the Sept. 7 hearing, Levine and the owners agreed to give up the practice of staying up after 2 a.m.

The liquor board hearing is open to the public and will start at 9 a.m.


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