Liquor store penalties leave Rifle nearly dry
Citizen Telegram Editor
Two of Rifle’s three open liquor stores were closed for three days this week as a penalty for selling alcohol to minors this past summer, according to City Clerk Lisa Cain.
Jon’s Liquors, 401 W. Second St., and Choice Liquors, 680 Wapiti Court, kept their doors closed from Sunday, Jan. 5 through Tuesday, Jan. 7.
Another alcohol-related business, Thai Chili Bistro, 115 E. Third St., will not be selling liquor for six days, from Saturday, Jan. 11 through Thursday, Jan. 16, Cain added. The violation was their second in two years, so their penalty is stiffer, she noted. The restaurant portion of the business is allowed to stay open.
The three businesses were among five who admitted their employees sold alcoholic beverages to minors during compliance checks by the Colorado Liquor Enforcement Division in July, Cain said. The others agreed to pay the city a fine of 20 percent of their average sales over a three-day period instead of close or cease selling liquor for a specific time, she added. Those are Rib City Grill, 707 Wapiti Ave., and Kum & Go, 705 Taughenbaugh Blvd.
All five also paid fines to the state enforcement division, Cain added.
Cain said the enforcement division checked all 31 Rifle businesses that have liquor licenses in July and these were the only ones caught with violations.
The city also gave each license holder the option of determining which days to close, Cain said.
“We don’t force them to close any certain days,” she stated. “In fact, we offered Jon’s the option of closing Jan. 12th through the 14th, because we didn’t think it would be a good idea to have them and Choice closed at the same time. But [owner Jon Isham] wanted the fifth through the seventh.”
The closure of the two stores on the same days meant Rifle had one open liquor store, Shale Country Liquors at 1250 Railroad Ave., on the three days. A fourth liquor store, Rocky Mountain Liquors at 1735 Railroad Ave., has been closed for repairs to damage caused by an arson fire in October.
Cain said the city had seen a few other closures or cessation of liquor sales related to liquor law violations in recent years, including Fiesta Guadalajara, 1214 Access Road, and nine businesses failed similar enforcement actions another time. In at least one state action, all of Rifle’s licensed establishments passed, Cain added.
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