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Yellowstone Club restaurants, bars face potential liquor-license revocations

HELENA — State revenue officials are proposing to revoke alcoholic-beverage licenses for several bars and restaurants at the exclusive Yellowstone Club in Big Sky, after inspectors seized more than 7,000 bottles and cans of liquor, beer and wine this year from club facilities operating without a license.

Documents filed last month by the Department of Revenue also say bar/restaurant operators hid the liquor off-site, during an initial inspection in January, and had been storing liquor at unlicensed warehouses in Bozeman for as long as seven years.

After getting a tip, the state Justice Department inspector returned to two Yellowstone Club establishments a week after the first inspection, unannounced, and discovered a fully operating, unlicensed liquor operation, the documents said. The state then seized 1,800 bottles of liquor, nearly 2,500 bottles of wine, 2,800 cans of beer and 31 kegs of beer.

The state is proposing to revoke existing licenses at four Yellowstone Club facilities and deny the application for the bar and restaurant where the liquor was seized.

Attorneys for the Yellowstone Club have asked for administrative hearings on the six separate violations. Those hearings, before a Revenue Department hearings officer, have yet to be scheduled, the agency said.

An attorney representing the Yellowstone Club did not return messages seeking comment.

The Yellowstone Club is a private residential and vacation club in Big Sky, with its own ski resort and golf course. Initiation fees are reportedly in the six figures and homes start at several million dollars.

Documents filed last month by the Revenue Department say two facilities at the Yellowstone Club, the Boot Room and the Buffalo Bar & Grill, applied for a liquor license last Dec. 1, under the name Village Spirits.

Justice Department inspector Charley Gappmayer visited the facilities Jan. 16 and determined they met the legal requirements. No alcoholic beverages were on-site, the documents said.

Several days later, however, Gappmayer received a tip that alcohol was being stored and served at the facilities, and that the operators had loaded the alcohol into U-Haul trucks and transported them to a nearby parking garage before the inspection, the documents said.

Gappmayer and another inspector returned, unannounced, on Jan. 24 and found a fully stocked bar and liquor operation, with customers there as well, the documents said. The state seized the liquor, beer and wine at the facilities.

The state said it also determined that alcohol for these two establishments and other Yellowstone Club bars and restaurants has been stored at unlicensed warehouses just west of Bozeman — one for seven years. State law says liquor sold at retail establishments must be stored on-site.

The other Yellowstone Club facilities supplied by the warehouses include the Rainbow Lounge, the Timberline Lounge, the Base Lodge and a golf course facility.

The state has proposed revoking all-beverage or beer-and-wine licenses for these facilities.

Mike Dennison

Mike Dennison

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