Timberline Steaks & Grille at DIA gets reprieve in liquor license fight

Colorado’s most profitable restaurant was granted an 11-hour reprieve on Wednesday that will allow it to continue serving alcohol while it appeals a decision to suspend its liquor license.

Timberline Steaks & Grille, in Concourse C of Denver International Airport, was set to lose its license for a month beginning Thursday due to three violations. But Denver District Court Judge Jill Dorancy suspended that ruling until a hearing could be held on July 25.

“The temporary restraining order is necessary to protect the business and the plaintiff’s ability to make money, although the amount of monetary damages is difficult to determine at this time,” the judge wrote Wednesday, after an expedited hearing.

Dorancy noted that Timberline has more than 150 employees who would be affected by the license suspension because they would lose tip from liquor sales.

“The harm to plaintiff, as evidenced by testimony, is that Timberline Steaks and Grille would lose between 30 and 40 percent of its sales, and plaintiff could also lose employees,” she added.

Rod Tafoya, president of Mission Yogurt Inc., owner of Timberline, testified on Wednesday. In a statement afterwards, he called the order a “welcome reprieve” but “only temporary”.

“We are very grateful that the judge recognized the harm that the Department of Excise and Licensing’s final decision would cause our staff, and we continue to believe that the suggested penalty far outweighs the potential harm created by the error. of the former team member,” he said.

Tafoya added: “We will continue to do what we can to minimize the impact on the team, and we will constantly work to provide the best in training and technological protections to prevent such problems from happening again. in the future.”

The Denver Excise and Licensing Department declined to comment on the judge’s decision.

Tafoya and the restaurant’s attorney argued that the department’s sanction did not fit the crime. On November 12, a waitress working her first day on the job served a Coors Light to a police cadet under the age of 21 after examining his driver’s license. The waitress and a server training her were fired. The restaurant said it was a simple mistake.

The Department of Excise and Licensing, on the other hand, noted that it was Timberline’s third violation in 15 months.

On August 12, 2020, a Timberline waitress served an underage police cadet a beer after looking at his license, which had “Under 21” printed on it in red ink. Under a settlement agreement, the restaurant paid a $4,500 fine instead of having its license suspended for four days.

On April 9, 2021, a 20-year-old police cadet ordered two Coronas. Again a waitress asked for her driver’s license and again the younger boy showed a license with “Under 21” printed on it but he was served the beer anyway. Timberline’s liquor license was suspended for 15 days.

Airport records show Timberline had gross sales of $6.3 million in the first five months of this year. It consistently ranks among the nation’s 100 most profitable independent restaurants on an annual list by Restaurant Business magazine. In 2019, it was 69th with annual sales of $14.7 million. In 2020, he was 74th with $14.4 million. It pays 16% of its sales to DIA.

Timberline is represented by attorney Steven Perfrement of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner.

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This story was reported by our partner BusinessDen.

Dino S. Williams