Sisters-area citizen Roger Engstrom delivered an impassioned defense of Hardtails Bar and Grill at the Sisters City Council on Thursday evening.
The council has recommended that the Oregon Liquor Control Commission not renew the establishment's liquor license due to concerns about multiple incidents at the bar over the past year as reported by the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office.
Engstrom read a lengthy statement Click here to see Engstom's opinion column. defending the establishment as a place for locals and tourists alike, an establishment that has contributed to the community by hosting fundraisers and supporting events. Engstrom suggested that the city has a double standard concerning activities at Hardtails versus other establishments and that perhaps "the city has a thing against motorcycles and their riders." Hardtails has a motorcycle theme and is often patronized by riders.
Responding to Engstrom's statements, Mayor Brad Boyd said he appreciated his passion and emphasized that neither the council nor the mayor personally have any issue with motorcycle riders.
Boyd said that the sole issue at play is concern over alleged incidences of overserving and service to minors at the bar.
"When you sell liquor to minors, when you overserve, you are endangering the community," Boyd said. "That is the issue."
The mayor also noted that the city had acted in the same manner when he was on the council in 2009 regarding a business that had a pattern of selling to minors. That business improved its procedures and did not lose its license.
Boyd gave Engstrom a copy of the letter from the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office recommending denial of a renewal of the Hardtails liquor license.
The letter details eight incidents at Hardtails over the past year. Several involved situations where patrons were allegedly served when they were extremely intoxicated. One incident allegedly involved serving a 20-year-old whose ID was never checked. OLCC was on hand at the time of the latter incident.
Hardtails owner Steve Macey told The Nugget that the 20-year-old snuck in to an enclosed "rodeo yard" and was not served.
None of the incidents reported in the letter ever resulted in an OLCC citation. Macey said that he has scheduled a meeting on Thursday with Captain Erik Utter of the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office and City Manager Andrew Gorayeb to discuss the DCSO letter.
"We're still working on getting this reversed," he said.
Three other establishments each had one incident of alcohol-related misbehavior reported in the letter. The sheriff's office recommended renewal for those businesses, but denial for Hardtails.
"The level of activity at present at Hardtails over the past year is concerning to the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office," the letter concludes. "Of note are multiple incidents where patrons have been observed by law enforcement to be highly intoxicated, to the point where they were visibly impaired. This suggests a pattern of overserving by staff. Multiple incidents involving subjects displaying aggressive or assaultive behavior have been investigated by the sheriff's office..." Click here for full text of the letter.
Macey said that "there's numerous things we're going to defend" regarding the reported incidents.
Hardtails' license runs through September 30. According to OLCC, in the wake of the city's non-renewal recommendation, the agency will undertake a renewal investigation. The city's recommendation does not necessarily mean the establishment will, in fact, lose its license.