Durango’s iconic pool hall and watering spot, Colorado Pongas, which changed owners on March 1, could lose its liquor license on Jan. 16.
The city of Durango Local Licensing Board voted 3-0 to hold a show-cause hearing in connection with reported violations of Pongas’ liquor license. The hearing could lead to the imposition of a fine, a suspension of the liquor license or complete loss of the license.
“I would look at it from the perspective of: Are we creating a nuisance downtown, and are we putting members of the public in danger with the way an establishment, that is licensed, is conducting its business,” said Local Licensing Board Commissioner Joe Colgan at a probable-cause hearing held Monday.
Durango Police Department Cmdr. Robert Brammer listed a litany of calls police responded to concerning Pongas at the corner of west Eighth Street and Narrow Gauge Avenue from March to Dec. 4. A total of 109 calls included:
34 assaults or disturbances.Four calls related to sexual assaults and several similar calls that were not pursued by reporting parties.23 calls to deal with over-intoxicated individuals, including several who were inebriated to the point emergency medical personnel or law enforcement had to intervene.Four calls of serving underage patrons.City Attorney Dirk Nelson said the Local Licensing Board could revoke Pongas’ liquor license at the Jan. 16 show-cause hearing. Less severe penalties, he said, could include a fine or a suspension of the liquor license for a period of time.
Ryan Brungard, attorney for Pongas owner Austin Zufelt, said on Wednesday, “Pongas is taking the concerns raised by the city of Durango and the licensing authority very seriously. Pongas will continue to proactively investigate the issues raised by the city.”
Pongas, he added, has already discussed the situation with the Durango Police Department and looks forward to cooperating with the city to best address the city’s concerns.
At the probable-cause hearing Monday, Brammer said, “Overall, the conduct of that establishment is problematic. We spend a lot of time and effort in that specific area.”
Brammer described several calls to Pongas to illustrate the situation at Monday’s probable-cause hearing.
He noted police were called to the bar to deal with disorderly conduct from an aggressive man, and when officers responded, the suspect fled the bar and urinated on a wall on Narrow Gauge Avenue when officers tried to talk to him.
He said officers responded to a report that a bartender provided drinks to two visibly intoxicated women who were later tested to have blood-alcohol levels of 0.250 and 0.294. The owner of the bar was contacted about the incident, and he was so intoxicated he needed the assistance of an employee to stand, Brammer said. He then urinated in his pants while talking to police officers, he said.