Bayou Cajun Restaurant and Bar must ‘show cause’ for keeping its liquor license

John Colson
Post Independent staff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — The Colorado liquor licensing board has called for a “show cause” hearing involving the Bayou Cajun Restaurant and Bar, over allegations that the business served alcohol to at least two minors on the night before they got into a fatal car wreck on I-70 through Glenwood Canyon.

No specific date was named for the hearing, and the “show cause” notice informed the bar’s management that a “pre-hearing” can be arranged with the Liquor Enforcement Division to set “a mutually convenient hearing date.”

The Bayou, 919 Grand Ave. in Glenwood Springs, has been under investigation by the state since the accident, which occurred at about 5:30 a.m. on April 14 and killed the driver, 18-year-old Brianda Zavala of Glenwood Springs, and her passenger, 16-year-old Jennifer Nevarez of Carbondale.

Zavala reportedly had a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.241, or three times the Colorado legal limit of 0.08. Nevarez’s BAC reportedly was 0.091.

Also killed was 24-year-old Albino Ortiz-Monge of Gypsum, who had a BAC of 0.046 and reportedly had traces of cocaine in his system, according to a state toxicology report.

The two girls reportedly were seen in the Bayou on the night before the accident.

The bar had been formally reprimanded by liquor authorities less than a year earlier, for allegedly serving minors, stemming from two incidents in June 2011 and in November 2011, according to a complaint issued by city officials.

Following a hearing, the bar’s liquor license was suspended for five days. After payment of a fine-in-lieu of $939, according to press reports, an additional suspension of 30 days was held off for a year, under the condition that there be no more violations of liquor codes.

Bayou owner Steve Beham said on Monday morning that he had not received any documents from the state, and was unsure of the status of the investigation.

He said he was aware that the state probe was focusing on accusations that his bar managers were permitting minors to enter the bar and drink there, and said he had talked with state liquor agents recently.

“They said they’d get back to me in the next 30 days,” Beham said, predicting, “This will go into November before it’s resolved.”

In the show-cause letter, state licensing authority director Barbara Brohl named two bar employees — Sherri McClenanhan and Denise Arreola — as having been responsible for letting the underage girls into the bar on the night before the accident.

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