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Carbondale’s Black Nugget gets preliminary approval from trustees

Folks can point their bellies toward the Black Nugget’s bar, but there’s no need to rush.

The Carbondale Board of Trustees gave preliminary approval to Black Nugget liquor license applicant Cassie Cerise Tuesday night but attached numerous conditions the board will consider in two weeks.

Until then, the Black Nugget will stay dark as a coal mine.



Several members of the public turned out to support Cerise in her efforts to reopen Carbondale’s best-known and oldest bar. Supporters included gray-haired Bob Schenck, a former American Legion commander.

“I’ve owned property here since 1960, and in my earlier years frequented it (the Nugget),” Schenck told the trustees. Referring to the mostly under-30 crowd that drank beer and played pool at the Nugget in its final days, Schenck said, “The young people deserve a place.”



Cerise, a Carbondale native whose parents met at the Black Nugget, had to apply for a new liquor license after she and her former partners went separate ways late last year.

In the 12 months before closing, the Black Nugget racked up a number of complaints and police actions. Police chief Gene Schilling initially recommended the application be denied, but after the trustees attached conditions and made their decision, said, “I feel fine with the way things were handled.”

Tuesday night’s public hearing for the Nugget was the second in two weeks. At the first hearing, a Front Range pollster hired by Cerise testified that Carbondale residents support the bar’s reopening by a wide margin.

At both proceedings, Cerise was joined at the council table by attorney Tom Silverman.

Silverman led Cerise through a brief question-and-answer session Tuesday night in which his client offered explanations for the police complaints, and ways in which she will keep problems from developing in the future.

Trustees had numerous questions and observations. Susie Darrow said noise complaints come in the summer when doors are open due to the heat when bands play. “Your dilemma is heat,” Darrow said.

When Darrow asked if a swamp cooler is being considered to alleviate the problem, Cerise nodded and said, “Definitely.”

Trustee Andrew Montoya posed the sharpest questions.

“Have you ever been charged with assault in Kansas City?” Montoya asked.

“No,” Cerise replied.

Schilling then explained that a disorderly conduct charge was filed in Manhattan, Kan., and it had been brought to the trustees’ attention before. Cerise said she wasn’t convicted.

Montoya then hammered Cerise for the problems that he said the trustees had pointed out last year during what was then the Lone Wolfe Brewpub’s liquor license renewal. The situation hadn’t improved, he said.

“That causes me great concern,” Montoya said.

When Montoya asked if Cerise will take responsibility now, she simply said, “Yes.”

At the previous hearing, Cerise said the bar will be smoke-free, she will write an employee manual to head off problems before they start, and she will hold monthly meetings to discuss bar issues.

Kurt Trede, who owns Peppino’s Pizza across from the Black Nugget, stood up during the public comment session and supported Cerise. His remarks were greeted with applause when he said, “I think you should give Cassie a chance. … Open up Main Street. … She answered your questions. … Do it.”

Next up was Marc Grandbois, who lives with his family about a block away, and alluded to past noise problems. “I come in peace,” Grandbois said.

Speaking to Cerise, Grandbois continued, “This is a big responsibility. I hope you live up to it, and maybe exceed people’s expectations.”

Conditions that the trustees attached to the liquor license approval include TIPS training for bartenders, installing a recording device on the pool room video camera, the consideration of a cooling system, close cooperation with police, closing the front and side door during performances, and having two doormen for every show.

Earlier in the meeting, Silverman told the trustees that if the liquor license is denied, nobody can apply for that site for two years.

He concluded his remarks by saying Cerise has submitted “overwhelming” evidence that state standards had been met to have the license.

“Legally, she’s entitled to that opportunity,” Silverman said.


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