Denver seeks to revoke Cheba Hut liquor license following 4/20 event

Nick Riegel tosses a drink cup as he takes orders in the Cheba Hut on University Hill on July 18, 2014.

The sandwiches apparently weren’t the only ones getting toasted on April 20 at a Cheba Hut location in Denver, and the sub shop’s liquor license now hangs in the balance for alleged violations of the city’s public cannabis consumption laws.

The city of Denver’s Department of Excise and Licenses is considering suspending or revoking the liquor license of Cheba Hut’s store at 638 E. Colfax Ave., according to a Show Cause order issued Monday. The city has scheduled a hearing for Aug. 2 for the operators of the Fort Collins-based marijuana-themed sub shop chain to demonstrate why the license should stay in place.

On April 20, which is regarded as a holiday to celebrate cannabis, undercover Denver Police Department officers saw several Cheba Hut patrons sitting at picnic tables and openly smoking marijuana, according to the complaint filed by Assistant City Attorney Su Cho.

The Denver Police Department issued public consumption citations, according to a Denver Westword report from May 2.

Cheba Hut did not have a cannabis consumption permit for the April 20 event or the East Colfax establishment, Cho stated. The city also sent Cheba Hut a letter on March 30 informing operators who promoted a planned “4/20 Bash” that marijuana consumption is legal only in a private setting or a licensed Designated Consumption Area, Cho noted.

The two violations spurred the show cause process.

“We are very pleased to see so many good actors in Denver who are enforcing marijuana public consumption laws at their businesses,” Ashley Kilroy, executive director of Denver’s excise and licenses department. “Despite the surge of marijuana consumers who arrived in Denver for 4/20 activities, only one establishment with a liquor license was found in violation of Denver’s marijuana public consumption laws. Our work with Denver businesses to educate them about marijuana public consumption laws in paying off.”

Scott Jennings, Cheba Hut’s owner and founder, declined to comment pending the ongoing hearing process.

Jennings opened the first Cheba Hut in 1998 in Arizona and has expanded the “toasted-sub” franchise to seven states with an eye on national expansion. Cheba Hut moved its corporate headquarters to Fort Collins from Arizona in 2014.

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