Today is our last day with a wine and beer liquor license in the state of Colorado.
Step back 15 years.
"Let's get a liquor license so we can serve wine or beer to our guests after they have had a long day of hiking!"
Fingerprinting. Background checks. Mailed surveys to neighbors. Public hearings. Exorbitant fees paid to state and county governments. Classes. Inspections. The promise that we will sell food, perhaps frozen burgers or frozen burritos (on paper plates, heated in the microwave by the customers) to customers.
Done. Now we can sell adult refreshments to our guests! Beer from the Estes Park micro brewery. Good stuff.
Annual license fees. Annual inspections. Monthly sales tax forms and payments. Cutting the dust for our poor, weary hikers. Loose a little money every year, but all is good. Not trying to run a "BAR". Don't even have any signs up.
Fast forward nine years. A county health inspector came by.
"Why, you do not have a restaurant license!" she says.
"Why? We are a bed and breakfast! Meals are supposed to be prepared in our personal, private kitchen." we says.
"Well, our county does not have RULES for bed and breakfasts!" she says.
"Well it's a good thing the state does. We're using THEIR rules!" we says.
"We'll see about that!" she says, and storms off.
Weeks later we got an email from the county. Turns out the county has no guidelines on bed and breakfasts, and we were in line with the state mandates. BUT, since they had no B&B rules, we were going to magically become a "boarding house" as they had rules for them. That means all meals served to guests must be "all inclusive"... as in pre-payed. Okay, we can deal with that. Only breakfasts for guests, unless they pay for other meals in advance. No biggy.
Oh yes, and no serving of dinners to bar patrons that are "compromisable" as in requiring freezing or refrigeration. Okay, no frozen burgers or burritos. Only the yummy shelf stable type meals.
The new bar menu listed Cup-O-Soups. Awesome.
Fast forward another 6 years. Flashing badges a couple state liquor inspectors showed up. For the first time ever.
"AH-HA!" they exclaimed. "You have hard liquor in your store-room by the kitchen!"
"Yes we do." we replied. "The kitchen and store-room are not part of the bar area. We wanted them exempted so we could make hot sherried fruit, and rum cakes, and bourbon balls, and scrambled egg flambe if we wanted."
"Well, the whole first floor is listed on the license as bar area." they informed me. "Or I think it would be if we could find a copy of the license."
Really? They THINK it said?
"And you must serve sandwiches." They said.
"We cannot." we responded. "The county will not let us."
"Then you must have a different type of liquor license." they proclaimed. "A Bed and Breakfast license."
"You must start over."they told us. "Fingerprinting. Background checks. Mailed surveys to neighbors. Public
hearings. Exorbitant fees paid to state and county governments.
Classes. Inspections. Annual license fees. Annual inspections. And oh yes, you can only GIVE the beer away to your guests."
Really? REALLY? They are offering to allow me to jump through their hoops and pay fees all over again so I CAN GIVE BEER TO PEOPLE IN MY OWN HOME?
Words fail me.
So, today is my last day with a Colorado State liquor license. Turns out you can give someone a beer in your home, as long as they are over 21. And you like them. And you want to.
State and County employees need not apply.
Except for the snow plow guys. Y'all can stop by any time you are off duty.