Wolf manager faces fine, but no muzzle on views
Paul Levine, manager of the Howling Wolf restaurant and nightclub in Aspen, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one charge of serving drinks without a liquor license.
Levine was sentenced to a one-year “deferred judgment,” meaning if he does not violate Aspen’s liquor laws for one year, there will be no conviction on his record.
He also was ordered by Municipal Judge Brook Peterson to pay a $500 fine.
Levine declined to comment on the case yesterday.
Although Assistant City Attorney Dave Hoefer had contemplated adding another condition to Levine’s sentence – that Levine refrain from criticizing the city’s liquor licensing authority for the period of the deferred judgment – Hoefer said he changed his mind.
“We decided that would be an unfair condition,” Hoefer said when asked about the matter.
Asked how the idea arose, he said, “I think the idea was that it’s probably in his [Levine’s] best interest not to criticize the liquor board. But that’s a decision for him to make, obviously.”
Levine, the liquor board and the Aspen Police Department have been at odds for some time over alleged violations of state and local liquor enforcement codes and other matters at the Howling Wolf.
Hoefer said he was “just trying to minimize the animosity that sometimes exists” between Levine and the liquor board.
The Howling Wolf is currently operating under a temporary liquor license, granted instead of a permanent license after the board learned of the charge filed against Levine by the police and the city attorney’s office.
The Howling Wolf recently relocated to the site of the former Flying Dog Brew Pub at Galena Street and Cooper Avenue. The Wolf held its grand opening party on April 17, under the license of the former tenant, George Stranahan.
Stranahan, part-owner of The Aspen Times, is continuing to brew beer for the Howling Wolf. The Wolf’s management thought the old license would cover the legalities for the opening party. But under Colorado liquor laws, the old license expires as soon as a new lease is signed for a premises, so Stranahan’s license was not in force for the party.
In addition to the troubles over the opening night party, the Wolf has run afoul of the state liquor licensing authorities over its arrangement with Stranahan regarding the making and serving of the Flying Dog beers.
Levine said state authorities had contacted him about the arrangement, under which Stranahan is “sub-leasing” the corner of the premises where the brew pub’s brewing vats and other paraphernalia are located. Levine said the arrangement apparently violates state liquor codes.
Attempts to reach someone at the Colorado liquor enforcement office about the alleged violations have been unsuccessful.
In response to the news from the state, Levine said on Wednesday, he and Stranahan have terminated the sub-leasing arrangement and will work out something else.
The Aspen Liquor Licensing Authority will hold a hearing on July 6 to decide whether or not to grant a permanent liquor license to the Howling Wolf in its new location.
Assistant City Attorney Hoefer said he will be recommending that the permanent license not be denied over the April 17 incident.
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