DENVER — Bar owners and employees suffered a blow Thursday morning after a judge upheld Gov. Polis' last call order, which temporarily bans alcohol sales past 10 p.m. at restaurants and bars that function as restaurants.
Mark Berzins, the CEO of Little Pub Company, is among those who will be affected by the order, which ends August 21. He owns 21 bars across the Denver Metro area, including Don's Club Tavern.
"Don's here is a legendary bar," Berzins said.
But the legendary name could die out with the last call now at 10 p.m. Berzins says the bar heavily relies on late-night sales from industry workers who tip handsomely.
"When you shut off all the late-night business, then we start losing thousands of dollars a week," he told Denver7.
Berzins is part of the Tavern League of Colorado, the organization that sued the governor to continue to serve after 10 p.m. Berzins says he testified at the hearing.
"I told him that there would be catastrophic consequences for our pubs that have a later night crowd," Berzins said.
Berzins expects to make difficult decisions in the coming days, like deciding which bars will remain open and which will need to close temporarily. He adds that there are no guarantees all the bars will reopen if they close, but he's sure he will have to lay off employees.
"I've cried a lot more than any time in my adult life," he said. "To put them out of work, especially now when unemployment benefits have expired, and rent is starting to be charged again, it's devastating."
Amy Burgess has worked at Don's nine years. She says they brought all their bartenders back, but some are only working eight hours a week.
"The bills still come in the same as they always did and now our pay is a quarter of what it was," she said.
As the clock ticks, the fight continues.
"I would say, right now, we will probably take this to trial," Berzins said.