The House of Booze Tavern in Santa Fe shut down after entering into a settlement agreement with the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department this week. The beleaguered establishment, owned by Matt Chavez, agreed to pay $10,000 and sell its liquor license after admitting to three violations of the Liquor Control Act in the past year.
"We're pleased to announce that this liquor establishment that has shown total disregard to our liquor laws will no longer be able to contribute to dangerous habits of serving alcohol to intoxicated patrons and minors," J Dee Dennis Jr., superintendent of the Regulation and Licensing Department, said in a press release. "We're all too familiar with the deadly and tragic consequences as a result of such irresponsible behavior exhibited by liquor establishments such as House of Booze."
In the settlement agreement, the House of Booze, located on the 800 block of Agua Fria Street, admitted to serving alcohol to two intoxicated persons in May and selling to a a minor on September 24. New Mexico's Liquor Control Act allows the state to fine establishments $10,000 and revoke liquor licenses after three violations in a year.
SFR documented House of Booze's woes with the Special Investigations Division, the arm of the Department of Public Safety that investigates liquor establishments. The clerk who allegedly sold booze to intoxicated persons denied the allegations. Clerks and store owners in the area say it's often difficult to to tell if customers are intoxicated. Furthermore, those clerks and store owners question why the state acts punitively against small businesses like the House of Booze to deal with its drunk driving epidemic.
In December, the AGD shut down Fairview Liquor Store and Bar in Española for serving to minors and selling package liquor after house, according to a press release, fining that establishment $11,000. It fined Cowgirl Hall of Fame Restaurant in Santa Fe $10,000 after two women driving drunk from the establishment crashed into an ambulance on I-25, killing one of the women.