Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Hearing officer asks that liquor license be denied

Plans for a bar and restaurant called the Crimson and Gold in the 2000 block of South University Boulevard have been affected by difficulty obtaining a liquor license.

On March 3, a hearing officer for the city of Denver recommended that the license application be defeated on grounds that the building where alcohol is to be served is within 500 feet of the Ricks Center for Gifted Children at 2040 S. York St. The Ricks Center is partnered with the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver.

“Two hundred twenty-seven students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade will be potentially exposed to alcohol, persons drinking alcohol, and driving after they consumed alcohol in the alley and streets adjacent to their school property,” hearing officer David Ramirez wrote in his ruling.

The would-be bar and restaurant is at 2017 S. University Blvd. — the northernmost unit of a one-story commercial building immediately south of the Conoco gas station at the southwest corner of Asbury Avenue and University Boulevard. The site was previously occupied by the Aroma Café. The band of buildings in which the Crimson and Gold is situated lie east of the Ricks Center across an alley. They include enterprises such as Mustard’s Last Stand, Spicy Pickle and the Christian Science Reading Room.

The Crimson and Gold’s liquor license application came into question in February after an attorney for the University contacted the city and asserted that the rear of the school’s fenced playground is within 500 feet of the building where liquor would be sold. A city inspector subsequently measured the distance and found it to be 70 feet, according to Ramirez. A measurement by a private company on behalf of the Crimson and Gold used a different, more circuitous route and found the distance to be 566 feet.

The result of the discrepancy was a hearing on Feb. 19 to determine which method of measuring the distance conformed to state law. Ramirez, the hearing examiner, accepted the city’s shorter measurement and recommended that the liquor license application not proceed.

“In this case we have a lawfully certified and chartered school … sitting 70 feet from a proposed liquor establishment,” Ramirez wrote. “Not only do we have a statutory duty to protect school children from intoxicated customers, we will have a duty to protect them from noise and noxious fumes at least 70 feet from where they learn and play.”

The city accepted objections to Ramirez’s ruling until March 13. A final decision on the application will be issued by Penny May, director of Denver’s Department of Excise and Licenses.

 “It was a huge surprise to us. We’re shocked,” said Kevin Caldwell, co-proprietor of the Crimson and Gold. “We plan to open some kind of food establishment regardless. It’s a good space and, ironically, there’s demand from DU.”

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