The Durango Local Licensing Authority unanimously approved an agreement with Colorado Pongas on Tuesday that resolves alleged liquor license violations the pool hall and bar faced.
City Attorney Dirk Nelson described the agreement as remedial rather than punitive for the business at west Eighth Street and Narrow Gauge Avenue.
“I would hope the licensee takes these requirements seriously, and we don’t see you in here again,” said Board Chairman Ron LeBlanc.
As part of the agreement, the owner of Colorado Pongas, Austin Zufelt, committed to send the bar’s employees to trainings with the Durango Police Department about liquor law. Staff members must attend three classes over the next three months, followed by quarterly trainings. The business also committed to create a series of new policies to help prevent problems.
The agreement is a new strategy for the city, and it could serve as a model for other establishments, LeBlanc said.
“This was drafted from scratch. We hope it will be effective,” Nelson said.
The board could have revoked or suspended Pongas’ liquor license or fined the business over the alleged violations, Nelson previously told The Durango Herald.
Durango police responded to 109 calls reporting bad behavior at Pongas from March 2017 to Dec. 4, 2017. The calls reported assaults, over-intoxicated patrons and serving alcohol to underage patrons, among other problems, Cmdr. Robert Brammer told the board during a December meeting.
Pongas did not admit to the violations by committing to the agreement, the document says. But the business did agree to improve its operation.
“The idea was to have more of a collaborative effort with the Durango Police Department,” said Ryan Brungard, who represented Zufelt.
Before reaching an agreement with the city, Pongas employees attended a training on liquor laws.
“We immediately saw a cooperative attitude from the licensee in this matter,” Nelson said.
The upcoming trainings will cover how to detect fake identification, de-escalate conflict and identify intoxicated patrons, among other related topics.
The business also agreed to establish protocols for contacting the Durango Police Department at the onset of trouble and policies to avoid serving to underage patrons. It also must adopt and enforce an alcohol and drug policy for its management and staff, the agreement said.
The police department’s Community Engagement Team will work with Pongas on the training.
“We are going to be doing a lot of different things with Pongas to make sure they understand all the regulations they have to abide by,” said Police Chief Kamran Afzal.
The team was established in July to work on reoccurring problems in the community and spent time addressing the panhandling issue downtown last summer, Afzal said.
In coming months, the team will spend more time working with businesses to prevent liquor law violations and head off issues associated with alcohol downtown, he said.
“We have never been able to arrest our way out of a problem,” he said.