Route 99 Liquor License Suspended over Alleged Covid Violations

The state has pulled the liquor license of Canby’s Route 99 Roadhouse for its failure to follow Covid-related public health guidelines, including social distancing and wearing masks, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission reported this week.

The suspension, which was issued Feb. 2, prohibits Route 99 from selling any alcoholic beverages, effective immediately.

The OLCC said it received complaints las month that Route 99 was allowing groups of customers to gather and consume food and alcohol inside the premises, in violation of coronavirus restrictions for Clackamas County that prohibit indoor dining.

OLCC enforcement staff spoke with the owners and operators of Route 99 to “provide education and verbal instructions on how the business could come into compliance,” but eventually conducted a site visit after continuing to receive complaints.

“Upon arriving at the business for an in-person inspection, OLCC compliance staff observed that Route 99’s parking lot was close to full and could see patrons inside the business socializing without masks,” OLCC said in the Feb. 4 press release.

“After entering Route 99’s dining area, OLCC staff observed a large group of customers, many consuming food and drinks in the bar; all of the customers and employees were socializing without masks.”

Route 99 was cited for violating the governor’s executive orders governing bars and restaurants as well as reopening guidelines, OLCC said, and may face additional charges for liquor rule violations.

The establishment is entitled to request an administrative hearing to challenge the OLCC’s actions. Reinstating the bar’s license to serve would be contingent upon a settlement with OLCC, which could involve a fine or a certain number of days suspended, depending on the facts of the case.

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“It really depends on their willingness and how fast they want to resolve this,” OLCC spokesman Bryant Haley told The Canby Current. “The whole goal from us is to educate. You know, we’ve been given these orders as well. We understand they’re not popular with the industry — we get that — and we’re just trying to work through that as best we can.”

The owners of Route 99, Rachelle George and Tyson Bafford, did not return a request for comment. But on Wednesday — after the OLCC’s decision — the bar had posted on its Facebook page saying it would be closed for a few weeks, without specifying a reason.

“During this time we are taking the opportunity to do some exciting renovations,” the Feb. 3 post said. “If you’d like to help, please [message] the page, and we will add you to the renovations group!”

Rumors of “open restaurants” — particularly in more rural areas — have become more common in the new year, as owners struggle to stay afloat in many parts of the state where indoor dining remains prohibited.

Some, like the Carver Hangar, Eagle Creek Saloon and Redland Cafe, have been more open about their defiance than others.

Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam encouraged restaurants, gyms and other businesses in his city to reopen last month at a less restrictive tier of the governor’s coronavirus guidelines — which still require mask wearing in public and severely reduced occupancy levels.

While decrying the plans by Pulliam and other leaders in late December, Governor Kate Brown said she would encourage enforcement agencies like OLCC to take an “education-first” approach, with measures like fines and suspensions being a last resort.

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