The House of Booze, a Santa Fe liquor store that was cited twice in the last year for violating the Liquor Control Act, is no longer in business. The state Alcohol and Gaming Division announced Friday that business owners agreed to a $10,000 fine and have already sold their liquor license.
House of Booze owner Matt Chavez admitted the business sold alcohol to intoxicated patrons on two separate occasions in May 2012 and to a minor just four months later. State laws allow the division to permanently revoke a liquor license if an establishment gets two or more such citations within a year. The settlement, however, means a revocation hearing won’t take place.
The settlement agreement requires the business, at 838 Agua Fría St., to pay a $10,000 fine, the maximum allowed by statute. Other terms of the agreement required that House of Booze cease operations immediately and that the license be sold within 60 days or face revocation.
“We want every liquor establishment in the state to be compliant with the laws that prohibit serving intoxicated individuals and minors, as there is a clear link between those violations and driving under the influence of alcohol,” said Jennifer Anderson, director of the Alcohol and Gaming Division. “Establishments that insist on ignoring the law run a very high risk of losing their license to serve or sell alcohol in New Mexico.”
Murphy Oil Co. bought the House of Booze license Thursday morning on the courthouse steps as part of a public foreclosure sale and expects to apply for its transfer to a new location, according to a news release from the division.
The Alcohol and Gaming Division has been active in its liquor establishment punishments lately. In December, it closed Fairview Liquor Store and Bar in Española for serving alcohol to minors and selling package liquor after hours, and fined the business $11,000. The Cowgirl BBQ in Santa Fe also was fined $10,000 and ordered not to serve alcohol for four days last year after two young women consumed alcohol at the Cowgirl and reportedly drove drunk the wrong way on Interstate 25.
“We really like to see establishments taking responsibility and implementing best practices to ensure that the public remains safe,” Anderson said in a written statement. “Serving and selling alcohol in the state of New Mexico is a privilege, not a right.”
The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission’s corporations list shows that 838 LLC, doing business as House of Booze, has been registered since 2006. The store at 838 Agua Fría St. was previously called Andy’s Liquorette. Chavez did not respond to a request for comment made through Aaron Boland, his attorney in the case.
Documents provided by the Alcohol and Gaming Division indicate that on Sept. 7, the Department of Public Safety Special Investigations unit sent a “minor operative” to House of Booze, and a clerk there sold the 18-year-old a six-pack of Budweiser without asking for identification. On May 5, an investigator reported the store sold liquor to two men who “displayed signs of intoxication.”
Contact Julie Ann Grimm at 986-3017 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @Julieanngrimm.