Most Colorado restaurants that serve alcohol have signs posted at each door stating “No alcohol beyond this point,” meant to discourage patrons from taking their drinks outside. That has changed …
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Most Colorado restaurants that serve alcohol have signs posted at each door stating “No alcohol beyond this point,” meant to discourage patrons from taking their drinks outside. That has changed for some establishments in Elizabeth, where the town’s board of trustees voted unanimously June 9 to approve an emergency ordinance clearing the way for businesses to expand their alcohol serving areas outdoors.
The change to the municipal code means those businesses can get temporary modifications of their liquor licenses from the town clerk to allow the outdoor service. The ordinance notes that the move is in response to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A business is only allowed to have alcohol in the legally licensed area of their business. No alcohol may be sold, served or stored outside of this area unless a modified premise license is approved and issued,” states Ordinance 20-05. “Due to restrictions, restaurants are seeking outside seating areas to assist in expanding to meet the limited seating and the require 6’ safe distancing.”
The amendment only applies to businesses that already have liquor licenses, and has no end date so it can be revisited or maintained following the pandemic, pending the board’s preference. The ordinance would also allow the town clerk to approve the application for modification, which will help speed up the process if the business is already in the process of requesting expanding their outside seating.
“The purpose of the ordinance the town passed regarding the modification is to allow administrative approval, which will allow it to turn around in a matter of business days,” said Grace Erickson, acting town administrator. “Prior to this they had to go to the board of trustees, which meant they would have had to wait until the next meeting and go through the public process. This amendment allows us to get it to the state for approval faster.”
Erickson said the ordinance would only apply to a handful of business owners, fewer than 10, in Elizabeth, but the town has reached out to those businesses to let them know of the amended license, and that the fee, which is usually $300, has been reduced to $150, which the town is willing to pay for using COVID relief funds.
Michelle Rink, with the Elizabeth Chamber, said she applauds the efforts of the town to help local businesses, but unfortunately most of the restaurants in town do not have sufficient outside space to expand to.
“It’s a noble effort, but with the limited space many businesses have it would be difficult for them to expand and take advantage of the new ordinance,” said Rink.
Maria Larios, owner of Catalina’s Diner, said they will be taking advantage of the modified liquor license.
“We don’t really have a lot of parking space, so we decided to increase the use of our patio space,” said Larios.
The previous ordinance would not allow for drink service outside the establishment, but with the amended liquor license, Larios said she could serve up to 20-25 people on the small patio and walkways surrounding it.
Erickson said in addition to the ordinance allowing the town clerk to approve the amended licenses within a few days, the Colorado Department of Revenue Liquor Enforcement Division is committed to significantly cutting down the amount of time they take to approve the amended license after it is submitted by the town.
“We just want to make sure that the location they are doing this in is approved with the zoning then we submit it to the state,” said Erickson. “The state is also trying to turn these around within a couple business days as well.”
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