The Navajo Hogan is safe -- for now.
On Friday, the city's Liquor and Beer Licensing Board fined the landmark bar, restaurant and music venue with a 90-day suspension for delinquent tax payments and alleged sales of marijuana by an employee.
The suspension means that the Hogan, at 2817 N. Nevada Ave., will be closed for 14 days, beginning May 30. When the bar reopens on June 13, it will remain on probation for 76 more days, meaning any more citations or problems could result in the death of one of the last music venues in town.
Last week's hearing became a grueling four-hour affair, with a squaring off between the attorney representing Navajo Hogan managing owner Ken Patterson and city attorney Scott Patlin.
Ultimately, Patterson says, while being forced to close for two weeks will hurt, he's pleased with the outcome. "We won, basically. We didn't expect to get off completely -- we are ultimately responsible. We are willing to take a stand to say we do not allow any drugs. "
The drugs in question are from two incidents from last August and October, when former bartender Erica Lynn Russell allegedly sold pot to undercover police while working her shift.
On Friday, Colorado Springs Police Department Detective Timothy Ives spent several minutes explaining what "kind bud" is before the seven-member board. The board ultimately decided that Patterson needed to take responsibility.
"We trusted someone with a stellar record," Patterson says of his former bartender. "She threw her life away, and almost took us with her. We learned not to trust anyone."
The Hogan also failed to file a tax return or remit sales tax for seven months during 2004 and 2005, owing more than $2,400 in delinquent sales tax.
The business suffered when their main financial backer, John Satcher, backed out about a month after the Navajo Hogan opened under Patterson's ownership, he said.
With no monetary support, the Hogan was severely underfunded. Bills piled up and Patterson found his business quickly plunged into debt. He is working on several payment plans with his landlord, vendors and others, and says he has other interested financial backers.
'Respect the club'
'Respect the club'
Luckily, the Hogan has staunch supporters. Colorado College students have sponsored their own bus to the Hogan for Wednesday night partying, and in a post-32 Bleu era, it's sorely needed as a local concert venue.
Most of the Hogan's shows are put on by Soda Jerk Presents, a promotions company that brings local and national hip-hop, punk, and indie acts to the state. Marc Peralta, promotions guru and co-owner of Soda Jerk, says the two-week closure will be tough on his company and estimates that five shows will either have to be canceled or moved to another venue. That means losing a chunk of change that he's already paid out for bands and advertisement.
Many of the concerts at the Hogan are all-ages shows, and Peralta has already fielded numerous calls from parents, concerned about their teens' safety. He's quick to assure them that the problem wasn't with the owners, but with an employee who has been dealt with. "I want it [the concert venues] to be community-based. I want people to feel comfortable and safe there."
The bar's 90-day probation, though, serves as a reminder that not all is well in the big, wooden beehive-looking establishment. If there are any further infractions, it could mean the immediate closing of the Hogan.
Peralta is very mindful of this, and he reminds his concertgoers that their behavior has a definite trickle-down effect.
"If you like having shows, respect the club," he says. "You know, if a 14-year-old sneaks in vodka or whatever into a show, that could mean that club gets closed down. That means people's jobs."