Eat, drink and be merry
The kitchen may be closed, but the bar still must serve food.
Whether it’s a restaurant with a beer and wine license or a tavern without regular food service, state law mandates availability of “sandwiches and light snacks.”
What exactly that entails is somewhat subjective.
At Springs Restaurant and Doc Holliday’s Tavern in downtown Glenwood Springs, it’s a literal sandwich – assembled by your server if the kitchen’s already closed.
“Your cook has to leave and you can’t just leave things running, but you need to have something to give people for safety,” owner Rob Rightmire explained.
It doesn’t happen very often.
“We got people that have just missed dinner more than drinkers needing food,” Rightmire said. “The biggest challenge is making sure your staff know about it.”
The scene is similar at Carbondale’s Pour House, where you can get a bowl of chili until closing.
“We very seldom get calls for food late,” manager Skip Bell said. “We keep the kitchen open if the demand is there. Keeping a cook on the payroll for an extra three or four hours a night, when you might sell one or two sandwiches, is a recipe for bankruptcy.”
When it’s not taco Tuesday or Broncos game night at Big Kids Corner Bar, you can still supplement snacks like popcorn and chips with frozen pizza hot from the oven.
“They seem to go pretty well. Once one person orders one, then they really fly off,” manager Mindy Gonzales said. “They don’t go bad, they’re easy to make. I think it was a really good solution to something that the liquor license calls for.”
The issue was recently highlighted with a five-day license suspension at Justice Snow’s in Aspen, albeit served during an off-season closure, but most violations result in a warning unless there’s a repeat violation, according Patrick Maroney, director of liquor enforcement for the Colorado Department of Revenue. The main goal, he explained, is making sure establishments have something in place.
“Instead of sandwiches it could be frozen pizza or Hot Pockets – anything with a bit more substance. A bowl of peanuts and pretzels on the bar doesn’t count by itself,” Maroney said. “Consumption of alcohol and absorption rate is different when we eat. It’s an issue of public safety for people to be able to have food if they want it … I believe there are people out there that do take advantage of it.”
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