DIVIDE — A Teller County restaurant could lose its license and face other penalties for not complying with state health orders.
Teller County Public Health recently served papers to Russ' Place in Divide.
One of the co-owners at Russ' Place told News5 that it all started about three weeks ago when the health department had an objection to people sitting outside on the restaurant's patio and drinking beverages as they waited for their to-go order. The letter the restaurant received also states that public health staff observed patrons eating and drinking inside the building. However, the restaurant says that hasn't happened.
"If we can sell beer to people sitting on the patio, it's another 10, 15, 20%," co-owner Bob Kerr said.
Like so many restaurants in Colorado, Russ' Place is doing what it can to stay afloat, but now it could be facing some penalties. Kerr shared that the restaurant got a verbal warning first from Teller County Public Health.
"They warned us - do not let anybody sit outside and drink beer or alcohol or sodas. They have to sit empty-handed while they're waiting. My objection was well, why can't they have a beer? Because we make money that way," he said.
He says he was told that due to Colorado's public health order that that wasn't allowed.
"We didn't like that because we're down about 80%. We said no, we're going to sell them beer. We've had enough," Kerr said.
He says it was about a week later when they were served papers.
"Got the letter telling me that we were selfish and defiant."
Also, if they didn't cease restaurant and bar operations immediately and comply with state orders, they would be subject to penalties.
"This time they were a little more forceful. We'll take away your license, we'll fine you, we'll put you in jail. My response was put me in jail. We're just trying to live. We're trying to survive. We're dying on the vine out here and nobody seems to care," he said.
Kerr shared that late Tuesday afternoon he got a call from the state liquor board telling him they are going to revoke his license. He says the restaurant is still going to operate.
News5 did reach out to Teller County Public Health to get a comment on this situation. We were directed to the county administrator and are waiting for a call back from them.
We also reached out to the sheriff's office who says they are encouraging businesses to comply, but that there is no enforcement on their end.
Some community members are asking for people to show their support for not only Russ' Place, but for all Teller County businesses. They're asking people to show up at Russ' Place on Thursday at noon to get some food.