11 Pima County bars may lose liquor licenses for not complying with COVID-19 regulations

Posted at 11:15 AM, Jul 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-08 01:23:33-04

Some bars in southern Arizona may face penalties for not complying with regulations aiming to curb the spread of COVID-19.

With cases spiking across the state, Gov. Doug Ducey recently ordered bars with a series 6 and series 7 liquor license to close their dining rooms across the state, though takeout could still be available. Ducey said he would leave it up to local governments to enforce the rules.

On Monday, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry detailed the extent of their enforcement actions of Gov. Ducey's executive order. In a memorandum to the Board of Supervisors, Huckelberry says health department inspectors visited every bar in Pima County that holds a series 6 or series 7 liquor license -- 168 businesses in total. Of those, the department referred 11 to the state liquor board for noncompliance. They are:

  • Zona 78 on Tanque Verde
  • Famous Sam's on North Silverbell Road
  • Famous Sam's on North Oracle Road
  • Old Father Inn on West Ina Road
  • Salty Dawg II on East Broadway Boulevard
  • Iguana Cafe on East Congress
  • El Chinito Gordo on North Oracle Road
  • Home Plate on East 22nd Street
  • Casa Marana on North Courtney Page Way
  • Circle S Saloon in Avra Valley
  • Buggy Wheel on East Drexel

Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said they had also investigated 112 complaints related to the county's face covering requirement. The complaints were related to customers or employees in certain businesses not wearing face masks, as required by a measure recently passed by the Pima County Board of Supervisors.

RELATED: Pima County Supervisors pass county-wide mask mandate

The owner of Salty Dawgs II, Michael Cesario has been in the restaurant and bar business for more than 30 years.

He says he never thought the future of his business would be uncertain, until Governor Ducey gave out his recent order. Now he wants answers.

“Can I or can’t I be open? One organization tells me one thing and the other one tells me another one. There’s been a lot of confusion,” he told KGUN9.

He says he understands bars with series 6 and 7 liquor licenses have to close their dining rooms, but he argues, Salty Dawgs II is different.

“The type of operation that I have is a restaurant and a bar. Full kitchen. Seating area. Breakfast, lunch and dinner menu,” he said.

So he did some digging to see if he could reopen.

“We spoke with the governor’s office. We spoke with local people in Pima County,” Cesario added.

He says he even reached out to the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control.

“They told us that we’d be able to operate in that manner because we’ve always operated as a restaurant and a bar, even though we have a series 6 liquor license,” he told KGUN9.

So, he reopened. Now, he finds himself on a list of 11 Pima County bars that are not complying with COVID-19 regulations.

“It’s very frustrating and it’s very uncomfortable. You know. Not knowing if I’m going to be open one day to the next,” he said.

He also adds the last thing he wants is to go against state or county regulations.

“We have a good reputation and we would never want to do anything to jeopardize that reputation. We do want to comply but we also want clarification for us to comply,” Cesario stated.