State suspends liquor license for Sarah’s Bull Pen

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: Sarah’s Bull Pen had its liquor license suspended Saturday for failure to adhere to COVID-19 regulations.

Action taken for failure to abide by COVID-19 regulations

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – One day after Governor Doug Ducey reduced some COVID-19 restrictions, Sarah’s Bull Pen at 912 W. Thatcher Blvd. had its liquor license indefinitely suspended for failure to abide by COVID-19 regulations.

The suspension – effective Saturday, March 6 – halts “all liquor sales and liquor-licensed activity”. Failure to comply with the suspension may result in additional violations, including revocation of the liquor license. While the bar initially believed it could still operate by selling food and non-alcoholic beverages, it later reported that it could not reopen its doors until the suspension is lifted and is effectively closed.

According to the notice of suspension, Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control detectives observed more than 50 patrons walking freely about the establishment on Friday night “standing, congregating, and mingling around tables and the bar area while failing to maintain at least six feet of space between each other to properly social distance”, which violates Ducey’s August 2020 Executive Order. Additionally, the report states all three pool tables were in use with no social distancing, and patrons were allowed to enter the bar without wearing face masks and were not escorted to tables as required by the executive order. Additionally, none of the three bartenders were wearing face masks either, which is also required in the executive order.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: The notice regarding the suspension of the liquor license has to be prominently displayed at the business.

The same day of the noted infractions, Ducey lifted capacity limits for businesses, but kept all remaining requirements implemented by the Arizona Department of Health and Safety, including mask use and “appropriate physical distancing between parties or groups.” Sarah’s Bull Pen previously electronically signed an attestation that it would comply with ADHS COVID-19 mitigation requirements to be able to reopen.

In February, the Graham County Board of Supervisors lifted its mask requirement regulation, however, the state-wide requirement for certain businesses is still in place.

Sarah’s Bull Pen owner and liquor licensee Sarah Henderson was previously given a warning on Jan. 15, according to the notice of suspension. It also states that a detective with the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control has had communication with Henderson regarding the regulations in Ducey’s executive orders involving the operation of liquor licensed restaurants, bars, and nightclubs providing dine-in services “no less than five times”.

The suspension is listed as being in place until the department decides to take other action or the “licensee can demonstrate to the department’s satisfaction that it is in compliance and will remain in compliance with (the) executive order and ADHS COVID-19 mitigation requirements, as well as the department statutes and rules referenced in this order. A hearing in this matter shall be promptly instituted and determined.” 

Sarah’s Bull Pen did not respond to the Gila Herald’s request for comment.  

This article was updated Wednesday to reflect the establishment is effectively closed until the suspension is lifted.