By Lucas Vader
After previous opposition and eventual failure in August 2019, Cedaredge Creekside on 65 Family Restaurant and Lounge has, on second attempt, secured a full time liquor license despite the restaurant’s close proximity to Cedaredge Elementary School, which sits directly across the street.
Codi Nelson, owner of Creekside on 65, previously Creekside Cafe, reached out to the Town of Cedaredge board of trustees and asked them to reconsider the decision from 2019 in the wake of the restaurant’s rebranding and the hard times brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have been responsible establishment that serves alcohol,” Nelson said in her letter after pointing out that they have followed the restrictions of alcohol sales during school hours. “I’m asking the town to please reconsider these limitations. This last year has been very difficult for my business and honestly, we are lucky to still be open.”
Nelson went on to explain that customers regularly walk out when they can’t get beer with their lunches, and they go instead to Lost Mesa Grill, which is an adequate distance from the school and has therefore been allowed to serve alcohol without the same limitations.
“We need to make money to stay open,” Nelson said. “I’m asking that you consider this and help us keep our restaurant open and busy with lots of sales.”
The letter came with a makeshift petition of six pages and 94 signatures of Creekside patrons and town residents.
The approval of the extended license was given by the majority of the board of trustees, with the exception of Trustee Heidi Weissner. Weissner made a clarification that her no-vote was given out of a desire for more information from the Delta County School District and not necessarily because she opposed the license.
The board did in fact approve the license where it was denied before, largely due to Delta County School District Superintendent Caryn Gibson rescinding her opposition from before. Due to the school district’s previous objection, the board had voted in a way that restricted Creekside from selling alcohol during school hours.
“Due to COVID and the difficult times small businesses are having, I would like to rescind my letter with regard to Creekside Cafe and the sale of alcohol,” Gibson wrote to the board in a letter. “I believe we all need to work together during these unsettling times and we want to do our part in promoting small businesses. We are fine with Creekside Cafe selling alcohol on their side of the street to help them stay in business. We will increase our outside safety procedures and protocols to keep parents, students, and staff safe.”
Her last comment regarding outside safety procedures was the item which Weissner had wanted to question further, leading to her desire to table the motion to a later meeting.
“I still have serious concerns that this restaurant is directly across from the elementary school,” Weissner said. “The superintendent said that they plan on increasing their outside safety procedures and protocols. I would like to know what those are going to be before I vote on this.” She recommended to the board that it table its approval until it can learn more from the school district, but for the other trustees, Gibson’s letter that rescinded the district’s objection was grounds enough to approve the liquor license.
Trustee Richard Udd stated that this was a main reason he would like to approve the license change. Trustee Charlie Howe said his greater concern is passersby who are speeding than liquor being sold directly across the street.
Trustee Cathy Brown took a fair-treatment approach in regards to alcohol versus marijuana. In 2019, she had voted against the liquor license change, but she stated on Thursday that she has since changed her mind.
“Last time I voted no, but now that I’ve thought about it, I’m changing my mind,” Brown said. “I think if you’re going to have pot shops open from 9-9, this restaurant should be able to be open also, so I’m in favor of it.”
Ultimately, Weissner’s concern for the school was the greatest, as she brought up the fact that many Creekside patrons park in the area on the north side of the school, adjacent to the school building.
This brought up a discussion of the school’s already rigid protocols. As an elementary school, the school’s policies state that children can only be dropped off at a very specific location on the south end of the school, where they are guided further from Creekside to their playground on the west end, whereas Creekside is on the east side of the road.
Also, as Udd and Mayor Ray Hanson figured, peak drinking time at Creekside would likely coincide with lunchtime at the school, where students would be in their own lunchroom before going out the west doors to their playground a safe distance from the alcohol being served. As always, students of Cedaredge Elementary School would be heavily supervised and restricted to the fenced-in playground on that opposite side of the school.
The liquor license had already been approved at the state level. Now that the town board has approved it as well, all necessary entities have given the full time liquor sales at Creekside their approval.