After Aspen police officers witnessed people exiting Bootsy Bellows just before 1 a.m. Saturday, Pitkin County Public Health subsequently issued a closure order on the business that is effective for 30 days.
“Officers walked in [and] found the bar open,” Aspen Police Assistant Chief Bill Linn said Sunday. “Bartender behind the bar, drinks being served, a cocktail waitress serving between 75 and 100 people, DJ music, disco lights. Not a mask in sight. Just looked like another Friday night.”
Given the statewide mandate banning alcohol sales after 10 p.m. and the Aspen city ordinance implementing a midnight curfew for restaurant operations, nobody should have been at the establishment at that hour — and in fact, given the nature of the nightclub (which does operate under a restaurant license but is effectively a bar), should never have been open in the first place, Linn continued.
“I think we are super patient and understanding that businesses are struggling in this environment and are trying things to make everything work,” he said. “This is just obviously a very egregious thumbing your nose at the health order, and with all the things we’re all trying to do to recover from this COVID mess it’s a bit over the top.”
He added that the term “a bit” was meant sarcastically in the case of finding Bootsy Bellows fully operational at close to 1 a.m.
“This is gigantically, leaps-and-bounds over the top,” he clarified.
The police officers on duty immediately shut down the scene, and Pitkin County Public Health officials subsequently placed the notice of closure sign outside the business’ door.
“APD discovered that it was open and collected evidence, and it was public health that issued the closure order,” Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock said. “This would fall into that category of what we would consider a serious violation, so we moved right to an immediate shut-down order. Right now, it’s for 30 days, and we’ll be evaluating with public orders and such.”
It’s likely that the state liquor licensing and enforcement authorities will also be reviewing the transgressions, Linn noted.
“The state liquor board has been notified,” he said. “I’m sure the local liquor license authorities are going to have a look at this.”
The closure order only pertains to the downstairs nightclub. Scarlett’s — and by extension, Over Easy, which leases the Scarlett’s space for its breakfast and lunch operations — will not be immediately affected, Peacock said.