By Joseph T. O’Connor EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
BIG SKY – The Yellowstone Club private ski and golf community near Big Sky, Montana, has signed a settlement agreement with the state Department of Revenue following a number of liquor violations brought by the state earlier this spring.
According to the settlement agreement signed on June 19, Yellowstone Club liquor licensees and a license applicant at the club will pay a total of $370,000 in a civil penalty payment to the Revenue Department and suspend alcohol operations in restaurants and bars operating under those licenses from seven to 20 days over the next five months.
The agreement stated that Hans Williamson, the club’s vice president, general manager and the licensee’s location manager misled investigators and will step down from managing liquor locations and will not be able to remain a part owner of liquor licenses. He will, however, retain his VP/GM position with the club.
Matt Kidd, managing director for CrossHarbor Capital Partners, the Boston-based private equity firm that owns the Yellowstone Club, would not comment on the settlement agreement but emailed a prepared statement to EBS.
“The [Yellowstone Club] license holders and all of the individuals involved have accepted full responsibility and going forward will comply with all of the conditions of settlement and ensure continued compliance with all laws and Department administrative rules,” Kidd wrote.
According to DOR documents, on April 18 the DOR initially filed an action to revoke four liquor licenses from the Yellowstone Club and deny the application for another after an anonymous whistleblower informed Montana Department of Justice investigators that alcohol was being stored in off-site locations and served illegally at the club’s Boot Room and Buffalo Bar and Grill.
On two separate occasions, Jan. 24 and Feb. 14, DOJ investigators found and confiscated a combined 2,979 bottles of liquor, 3,108 bottles of wine, 2,906 bottles and cans of beer, and 31 beer kegs, according to DOR Notice of Seizure documents.
Investigators also found alcohol and empty kegs in an unlicensed Huffine Lane warehouse in Bozeman where the warehouse manager said alcohol was stored before being shipped to the Yellowstone Club, a violation of state law that prohibits bars and restaurants from storing alcohol off site.
Following the suspensions, the four licensees will be able to commence normal business operations provided all servers, bartenders, supervisors and location managers “… pass DOR-approved responsible alcohol sales and server training within one year of the execution of this agreement,” the settlement stated. Under the terms of the agreement, the club will be allowed to recover the seized alcohol.
As of press time on June 30, Revenue Department officials had not responded to requests for comment for this story.