Fans of Cheba Hut's toasted subs can rest easier now that ownership has reached a settlement with the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses over public marijuana consumption violations at the location at 638 East Colfax Avenue earlier this year.
The eatery was in hot water after undercover police officers busted several patrons for public pot consumption on the restaurant's front patio during a 4/20 party. Although Cheba Hut is known for its love of the plant and pot-centric puns on its menu, the party was not licensed for marijuana consumption by the City of Denver, which in advance of April 20 had reminded Cheba Hut and dozens of other businesses that public marijuana use was still illegal in Denver.
Approximately six customers were consuming marijuana on the patio when undercover officers from the Denver Police Department spotted them, according to Cheba Hut co-owner David Timmons. Uniformed officers arrived shortly thereafter to issue the citations for public consumption to the customers and complicity citations to the restaurateur and his bar manager for allowing the public consumption to happen.
Timmons and Cheba Hut's attorney couldn't be reached for a comment on the settlement, but in an interview with Westword in May, Timmons said that certified security staff monitoring the restaurant and patio for public pot use during the event were distracted performing other duties; that's when attendees began consuming cannabis on the patio. The bar manager's citation was dropped, and Timmons had to perform twelve hours of community service to satisfy the legal consequences of his citation.
But the restaurant's liquor license was in trouble, too, and Excise and Licenses notified Cheba Hut that it would undergo a discipline hearing in June. Before the hearing, Timmons said he was confident that Cheba Hut's punishment wouldn't be too tough — and it looks like he was right.
Per the settlement with the city, Cheba Hut will remain open and its liquor license will remain active, as long as it pays a $1,000 fine before October 1 and stays out of trouble for one year from today, September 5. If Cheba Hut is cited for public pot consumption or another marijuana-related violations before its probation ends, it will have to close for eight days.
As the department responsible for overseeing both marijuana and liquor licensing in Denver, Excise and Licenses required Cheba Hut to prove that it should still keep its liquor license during the hearing. Department director Ashley Kilroy ultimately decided on Cheba Hut's discipline after the restaurant's ownership and Denver city attorneys agreed to terms, according to Excise and Licenses.
The only other business to report public consumption citations on 4/20 was Tetra 9 Private Lounge & Garden, a members-only marijuana lounge that saw its owner and three patrons cited. The citations against Tetra 9 owner Dewayne Benjamin and the three patrons were dropped earlier this summer, according to Benjamin's attorney.
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