DENVER — The owner of the Grizzly Rose said he gave the green light to violate the state health order capacity limit last Saturday when a crowd of mostly maskless people packed into the bar.
Earlier in the week, a video circulated online of people failing to socially distance in the country dance hall. Scott Durland claimed he didn’t advertise on the radio or on television. He said it was all word of mouth.
“There is a lot of pent out demand to go out and see people and do things socially again,” Durland said.
Durland, a Delta Airline pilot, said he was out of town when he got a phone call from an employee telling him there were two “ridiculously” long lines out both doors at the dance hall.
“I made the call to go ahead and let them in because we could handle them inside, I thought, better than outside,” Durland said. “Per the state mandate, that is correct, there was more than 50 people in here.”
He admitted he may have made the wrong call, but said he didn’t have the staff to manage the crowd outside.
“It’s really hard to turn people away and tell them you can’t get in, get in your car and go. It doesn’t end well usually,” Durland said.
He added part of the reason he didn’t want to turn people away is because it could hurt future business.
“We don’t want to lose our core business in the long run for just enforcing the mandate,” Durland said. “Everybody that comes through that door is who pays those bills.”
The Grizzly Rose is 50,000 square feet. Before the pandemic about 2,000 people attended the dance hall. Under the state health order at the time of the violation, the business capacity was 25%, or 50 people or less. Durland pointed out it essentially gives 1,000 square feet per person with a 50 customer limit, which doesn’t cover the expense of running his business.
Durland's had to lay off 72 employees since the beginning of the pandemic.
“We can’t make money at 50 people,” Durland said.
He made the decision to voluntarily shut down his business. Then, Tri-County Health ordered the bar remain closed for failing to follow mask and social distancing requirements and exceeding indoor capacity restrictions.
It’s not clear when the bar will open, but Durland said opening for 100-200 people doesn’t cover his bills. He needs a capacity of 500 people to cover expenses for the beloved dance hall that’s been around since 1989.
Denver7 did reach out to several bar owners for their take on Durland’s decision. Some said his actions hurt businesses that are following protocols, others wouldn’t comment out of fear of losing customers of their own.