Yellowstone Club

A stone entryway marks the gate to the Yellowstone Club at the end of South Fork Road in Big Sky.

Yellowstone Club bars and restaurants paid $370,000 to the state to keep four liquor licenses and receive one more after getting caught illegally serving alcohol and hiding booze in a parking garage.

Yellowstone Club’s Base Lodge Lounge, Timberline, H&K Spirits and Rainbow Lodge Lounge admitted to the Montana Department of Revenue that they sold and stored alcohol at unlicensed locations. The Boot Room and Buffalo Bar and Grill also admitted to acquiring and selling alcohol without a liquor license and attempting to deceive state inspectors by hiding the booze.

Base Lodge Lounge is required to pay $184,000; Timberline is required to pay $45,000; H&K Spirits is required to pay $96,000; and Rainbow Lodge Lounge is required to pay $45,000.

In exchange, the revenue department will not revoke the liquor licenses for Rainbow Lodge Lounge, H&K Spirits, Timberline Lounge and Base Lodge. The state also will not deny an application for a liquor license for the Boot Room and Buffalo Bar and Grill.

However, the revenue department will suspend each bar and restaurant from serving alcohol for seven to 20 days, depending on the offense. They’ll be allowed to stay open to serve food, the agreement said. The revenue department will post notices of the suspensions on the businesses.

The Boot Room and Buffalo Bar and Grill were also required to fire Hans Williamson, a liquor license manager for the Yellowstone Club.

Shane Reely, attorney for the businesses, said the businesses and people involved have taken full responsibility and would comply with the settlement and state law.

“We thank the Department of Revenue for working with us to resolve all of the outstanding issues and finalize a settlement agreement acceptable to all parties,” Reely said.

In January, manager Williamson met with an inspector for a liquor license application at the Boot Room and Buffalo Bar and Grill, according to revenue department documents. The inspector found the two businesses met state requirements for the license.

After the inspector left, the revenue department received an anonymous tip that the Boot Room and Buffalo Bar and Grill sold alcohol beginning Dec. 15, the day they opened, according to department documents.

The whistleblower said alcohol was loaded into U-Haul trucks and hidden in a nearby parking garage the day before an inspector checked on the restaurants. The booze was brought back after the inspector left.

The informant also said some Yellowstone Club restaurants used a warehouse in Bozeman to receive alcohol deliveries, according to department documents. The Rainbow Lodge Lounge, H&K Spirits, Base Lodge and Timberline Lounge received and stored alcohol at a Bozeman warehouse and delivered it to the club.

State law doesn’t allow bars and restaurants to store alcohol off-site.

Base Lodge also occasionally provided alcohol to the Boot Room and Buffalo Bar and Grill using catering permits from December to February, according to department documents. However, the reporting party told investigators there were no catered events during that time.

Days after the initial inspection, two inspectors returned to the Boot Room and Buffalo Bar and Grill, department documents said. They found stocked bars, bottles of wine and customers drinking alcohol despite the businesses not having a liquor license.

Department documents said investigators seized more than 9,000 bottles of liquor, wine and beer, and 31 kegs of beer from the two bars. They later found alcohol for the Yellowstone Club at a Bozeman warehouse.

Freddy Monares can be reached at fmonares@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2630. Follow him on Twitter @TGIFreddy.

Reporter

Freddy Monares covers politics and county government for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

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