Liquor license causes controversy

© 2018-Monte Vista Journal

MONTE VISTA—During the Thursday, July 6 Monte Vista City Council meeting, councilors debated over the liquor license renewal of MVH LLC, DBA Monte Villa Inn.
Prior to the Monte Villa Inn discussion, the liquor licenses for the local Pizza Hut and Love’s Country Store were renewed unanimously as they had no violations and had completed all required application materials.
Monte Villa Owner John Nelson was not able to attend the renewal hearing as his grandmother had a minor heart attack the day before, but he submitted a letter to address security improvements made to the hotel since his last hearing in July of 2016. A letter was submitted from acting Police Chief Eddie Rodriguez and City Clerk Unita Vance stating the Monte Villa (and the other two businesses) had no violations. At the July 2016 hearing, members of the MVPD had brought up concerns about the Villa and the liquor license was renewed on the condition Nelson show security improvements.
Councilor Jason Lorenz stated a letter from Nelson was not adequate, he believed their renewal motion required Nelson to be there in person.
Alex Notov, one of the co-owners of Three Guys Farms, was present to speak at the hearing on behalf of his business. Notov explained that Three Guys Farms operates the Villa Pub three nights a week, and although he can not speak for the Villa on the nights he, his employees and his co-owners are not present, he explained the security protocol they and Nelson are currently working on.
Notov noted their main goal is for all employees “to keep your head on a swivel” and keep track of all of the patrons in and around the facility, noting they regularly walk around the premises and parking lot to monitor it. Nelson and Notov are developing an onsite written checklist of what to do in the event of a potentially dangerous incident and a list of law enforcement contacts.
Notov also stated Three Guys Farms will hire private security for special events, as they will on Saturday for their showing of UFC fights. Notov emphasized Three Guys Farms is utilizing the pub to showcase their business and improve the clientele, with the eventual goal of making the hotel a hub for agritourism.
Lorenz asked about the other nights that Three Guys Farms is not present, and Notov noted he cannot speak for the protocol for the rest of the hotel but stated there have not been any incidents he is aware of, which Rodriguez confirmed. Rodriguez stated the police department has been called to the hotel for welfare checks if a guest has not checked in with their family but there have been no calls for fights or other problems with the bar that he is aware of in the last year.
Councilor Joe Schlabach asked if any protocol was in place to prevent over-serving a customer, as that was a concern at the 2016 hearing. Notov stated he and his co-owners believe “our jobs as bartenders is to care for the patrons” and “make sure we put our best foot forward” for the benefit of their business.
Notov stated he will build better relationships with law enforcement, praising the work of the MVPD and “if someone is starting to act out, then we’ll take the next steps necessary.” Notov also was very open to Councilor Matthew Martinez’s suggestion that Three Guys Farms work with law enforcement and the city at future work sessions to build more specific plans, adding “One of our core principles is transparency; our intention is to grow our business…our brand is on the line by working with the Monte Villa” emphasizing it was in their best interest to cooperate with the city and the public. Notov noted the denial of the Villa’s liquor license would bring their business to a halt.
Councilor Carol Shroeder stated, “We’re making this more complicated than it needs to be,” praising the business model of Three Guys Farms, their dedication and their excellent reputation, before motioning to approve the liquor license.
Lorenz made it clear he disagreed, stating “they [Three Guys Farms] could be thrown out tomorrow,” and he disagreed with giving Nelson the renewal because he has had a year and made no progress. Lorenz responded to Shroeder pointing out the Villa was closed all winter with “well, then it’s easy not to get violations.” Schlabach added, “We can’t shut down their business for what John hasn’t done or for what was done before.” Council voted to approve the renewal 4-1 with Lorenz being the only nay vote.

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