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Durango bar retains liquor license after run-ins with the law

Co-owner and former manager at 8th Ave. Tavern removed from license
8th Ave. Tavern owners Jessie and Brian Baehr reached a deal with the city of Durango in late April to allow Jessie to retain her liquor license on condition of removing Brian Baehr from the license and from his manager position after incidents in 2022 and 2023 involving the sale of alcohol to a minor and a driving under the influence charge against him. (Christian Burney/Durango Herald)

A Durango tavern avoided total revocation of its liquor license last month after one of the owners was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and a patron was caught serving alcohol to a minor.

The city and 8th Ave. Tavern owners Jessie and Brian Baehr reached a deal last month.

Durango City Council serves as the local liquor licensing authority.

The agreement, stipulates that Brian Baehr will be removed from the liquor license and from his manager position at 8th Ave. Tavern, leaving Jessie Baehr the sole license holder. Failure to comply with the agreement could result in revocation of the liquor license in full.

“I’m pleased that we were able to reach an agreement with the city attorney, allowing me to provide for my daughters and maintain employment for my staff, and can continue serving our community and our loyal customers,” Jessie said Thursday.

She said she has owned the tavern for about 10 years, although it has been open longer than that. She received an outpouring of community support when the bar was put on notice that it was in jeopardy of losing its liquor license.

“We have a pretty loyal customer base and a really nice following of good people,” Jessie said.

She declined to comment about the incidents that led to the local liquor licensing authority taking action.

According to the city attorney’s office, Durango Police Department notified the city of several violations involving 8th Ave. Tavern and Brian Baehr when the Baehrs filed to renew their liquor license.

The violations range from Oct. 27, 2022, to Aug. 31, 2023, and include one instance of a bar patron serving alcohol to a minor, a driving under the influence charge against Brian and a failure by him to appear in court for the DUI.


Details of alleged violations

According to an Oct. 27, 2022, police report filed by DPD Officer Padriac Ingle, a volunteer 18-year-old participating in a DPD liquor law compliance check entered 8th Ave. Tavern about 6 p.m., sat at the bar and was offered a drink by a patron sitting nearby.

The patron went behind the bar to fix the drink and gave it to the volunteer free of charge. The volunteer texted officers dressed in plain clothes waiting outside, who entered the bar and interviewed bartenders, including Brian Baehr.

The police report says officers determined an employee of the bar did not serve the volunteer participating in the undercover compliance check. But it notes a patron being allowed to go behind the bar and serve an alcoholic beverage to a minor is still problematic.

The report also describes Baehr as “swaying side to side, his eyelids were half open, his speech was slow” and having an odor of an alcohol beverage on his breath. Baehr told officers his security video cameras don’t work and initially refused to identify himself, which the report notes are violations of state law.

Baehr gave his ID to Ingle after Ingle requested a uniformed police officer be dispatched to the bar, the report says. He first tried to give Ingle a credit card, a debit card and a business card to Alpine Bank.

Neither Baehr nor the unidentified bar patron were cited or charged that day, although an investigation ensued, the report says.

On May 14, 2023, Baehr was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after he was reported by a neighbor who noticed him passed out in the driver’s seat of his vehicle.

The vehicle’s brake lights were on and his driver’s side window was rolled down. Baehr was asleep and unresponsive. He smelled of alcohol and his foot was pressed to the brake, the documents say.

Paramedics were called to the scene, and when emergency medical services performed a sternum rub – a pain stimulus to determine a patient’s level of consciousness – Baehr woke up after about 20 seconds.

Baehr told paramedics he was in Durango but he could not say what day it was and refused medical treatment, the report says. He told officers he was going home and began stumbling in the opposite direction of his residence.

An officer told Baehr to stop walking. Baehr was “very unstable while walking and standing” and the officer grabbed his arm, again telling him to stop. Baehr then “balled his fist and pretended to punch at me,” the report says.

At that point, Baehr was handcuffed and taken to the La Plata County Jail. In a search of Baehr’s car, officers found two open shooter bottles of 99 Bananas liquor on the passenger side floor, the report says.

A third police report dated Aug. 31, 2023, details Baehr’s arrest on a warrant for failure to appear in court for his DUI. Officers contacted Baehr at 8th Ave. Tavern to follow up on an altercation that occurred at the bar the previous evening.

After interviewing Baehr’s about the altercation, officers informed him of the warrant for his arrest and placed him into custody. He was once again taken to the La Plata County Jail, the report says.


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