More than 40 people waved signs in front of The Lyons Den Restaurant and Taphouse on Sunday, chanting “we stand for freedom” and “stop the lockdown.”
The restaurant at 160 E. Main St., which was closed after violating public health orders, organized the rally to support small businesses struggling to stay afloat because of coronavirus restrictions.
Owners Randall and Denise Yarbrough had continued serving patrons inside their restaurant, despite public health orders that prohibited indoor dining. They also received warnings for failure to enforce the facial covering order.
The Lyons Board of Trustees voted unanimously Dec. 7 to temporarily suspend The Lyons Den’s local liquor license — two days after the restaurant received a summary suspension of its state liquor license.
In the same meeting, the town board voted 4-3 to temporarily suspend the restaurant’s business license, also citing the restaurant’s failure to comply. The board is expected to consider a further suspension, revocation or reinstatement of the liquor license at its Dec. 21 meeting.
On Nov. 20, Boulder County moved to Level Red restrictions, which required restaurants to go from operating with 25% capacity or 50 people inside to no indoor dining. Businesses still can use curbside pickup and offer outdoor dining, but Randall Yarbrough previously told the Times-Call that wasn’t enough for his restaurant to survive.
On Sunday, he said take out isn’t a big part of his restaurant, which brings in customers who want to socialize by offering live music, karaoke nights and pool. While the restaurant has a large patio, there aren’t enough customers willing to sit outside, even with heaters, in cold weather, he said.
The rally, he said, was an opportunity for small businesses to come together and support each other.
“Us little guys are getting picked off, one by one,” he said. “It’s our hope to band together and have conversations.”
Mark Milliman, who ran unsuccessfully for Colorado House District 11 in November, participated in the rally and is suing Gov. Jared Polis and Boulder County Public Health over the mask mandate.
He said the Lyons Den owners shouldn’t have to enforce the mask mandate, something he said should instead be the job of the police.
“It’s hard enough for them to stay open partially as it is,” he said.
Rebecca Roberts, who lives in Longmont, said she feels for small businesses and is “done with the lockdown.”
“We’ve got to open up America again,” she said. “We have to open our businesses.”
While the rally was organized to support small businesses, Western Stars Gallery and Studio owner Chrystal DeCoster said it was disruptive. She closed Western Stars, which is located next door to the Lyons Den, during the rally.
She said she also canceled a Saturday fundraiser for the local fire department after hearing the Lyons Den had planned a rally with 1,000 people for the same day. The restaurant wasn’t willing to move the rally to a park, she said. About 12 hours after she canceled the fundraiser, she learned the Lyons Den had changed the date of the rally to Sunday, she said.
“They just haven’t been a good neighbor,” she said, adding her sister died after contracting COVID-19. “This is a deadly disease. You have to take it seriously. The Lyons Den has the best patio in Boulder County. They could have done a food court with other restaurants, had musicians play. The town would have wrapped around them in support.”
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