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Liquor Enforcement Div. raids Lyons Den over public health order violations, owner vows legal fight

Owner: The way it went down was a big circus act
Posted at 12:58 AM, Dec 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-07 13:46:45-05

LYONS, Colo. — Agents from the Colorado Department of Revenue's Liquor Enforcement Division raided a restaurant in Lyons over the weekend, alleging public health order violations.

"We were just flabbergasted," said Randall Yarbrough, owner of The Lyons Den Restaurant & Taphouse, located at 160 E. Main St. in Lyons.

Yarbrough said he couldn't believe how many officers showed up to shut The Lyons Den down.

"And over what? Indoor dining," he asked.

Last month, Boulder County Public Health officials issued a cease and desist order for failure to enforce the facial covering order, for allowing indoor dining while prohibited at Level Red, and for serving food and drinks to patrons seated at the bar as prohibited under a Public Health Order.

"We weren't out to hurt anybody," Yarbrough told Denver7 by phone. "We're not trying to put anybody's lives in danger."

The restaurant owner said he believes every person's health is their own individual responsibility.

"If you're sick, stay home. If you want to support, support. If you feel like we're endangering the community, don't support. Don't come in," he said.

He said pandemic-related restrictions have cut his business 40 to 50%.

"We decided two weeks back that we just couldn't afford to go to Level Red," he said.

The Liquor Enforcement Division took notice, and then took action.

"Cops came, and one by one, kicked people out," said line cook Mike Maloney. "They locked all the doors, put a person at every entrance and exit, and didn't let anyone in or out of the restaurant for about two hours."

He said the officers took thousands of dollars worth of alcohol, beer and liquor.

"They went in like a SWAT team. They went in like guns ready to blaze," he said.

Yarbrough described it as a circus act. Maloney said it was like something out of an Al Capone movie.

"They backed up a box truck to the front door and they were using dollies with all these boxes of liquor and beer, and I was thinking, 'This is like 1920 again,'" he said.

The Department of Revenue said, "after multiple warnings with this licensee, the LED, in conjunction with local authorities, issued a summary suspension, a temporary order to stop the sale of alcohol."

Yarbrough said he knows other business owners are questioning his decision to continue serving indoors when many of them have stopped.

"I've heard that several times," he said. "We all have different feelings and thoughts on the pandemic. We couldn't afford another shutdown. I'm in a small town. Some of the (other) restaurants in town have multiple locations. They can afford to comply with the orders. We just felt like we couldn't do it."

Yarbrough added that his priorities are his customers and employees.

He said he took the day off Sunday to regroup, and try to forget the big circus act that went down Saturday.

"We're not giving up," he said. "A liquor license is a liquor license. I feel confident I'll get it back, sooner rather than later, but at this point, it's going to be a legal battle. I just know it is."

He said they plan to open again Monday, even if they're not allowed to serve alcohol.

That's not all they plan to do.

"We've got a peaceful protest going to happen tomorrow at 5 p.m. outside the restaurant," he said.