After closing for remodeling in February, Shocktoberfest might never reopen, Shocktoberfest owner Jason Palumbo said.
“I’m in Germany, and my team informed me we were going to have a fire inspection, which was no big deal,” Palumbo said. “But it wasn’t just a fire inspection. It was a health inspection, and they handed us a list with many, many items to be fixed.”
The list was a surprise, because a previous health inspector only found a few problems and Palumbo’s team was addressing them when they could, Palumbo said.
Laramie Code Administration Division Manager Jerry Hankin said a health inspection of the German-themed bar, located at 303 S. Third St., was requested by Laramie Fire Marshal Mark Doyle to coincide with a fire inspection.
Both inspections — conducted Feb. 17 — turned up several health and safety problems, Hankin said.
“The two most extensive problems were some facilities issues — in particular, plumbing — and some food handling practices,” he said. “We asked them to do a voluntary closure.”
Hankin said requesting a voluntary closure is not a common procedure for the city, but circumstances required immediate action.
On Thursday, the city hired contractors to remove debris and obstacles from the Shocktoberfest patio area during an emergency abatement for public health and safety reasons, said Brian Forster, Laramie Code Administration Division Code Enforcement Inspector.
“We talked to them about what the problems were and they didn’t address the issue,” Forster said. “So, we had to step in.”
During emergency abatements, Forster said the city is not required to contact the property owner, but in this case, they did.
“The two problems with the beer garden were the trash and the tripping obstacles,” he said. “It was an emergency abatement because of concerns expressed by the fire prevention guys and health inspection.”
Forster said emergency abatements don’t require the Laramie City Council’s permission.
After an emergency abatement, the contractor bills the city, which pays for the service and charges the property owner for the original cost plus 20 percent for administrative purposes, he said.
“The property owner does have the right to appeal the amount,” Forster said.
Shocktoberfest was charged $679.68 for the abatement.
Despite a lack of citations issued during the inspection, Palumbo said he could not afford to address all the problems listed in the inspection.
“Right now, we are just going to have to give it up,” Palumbo said. “I’m going to do my best to recruit and find somebody to take it over.”
He said he would consider selling or leasing the location.
“I’m over here in Germany taking care of a family issue,” Palumbo said. “There’s not a lot else I can do.”
Located next door in a building facing Grand Avenue, Laramie attorney Joe Hageman said he was glad to see the outdoor patio cleaned up.
“The stuff stacked against my building — with all the cardboard boxes that were there — if somebody chucked a cigarette butt in there, it would have been a pretty good fire,” he said.
While he said he’s heard several complaints about the patio decorations, it didn’t bother him as much as the safety concerns.
“I never really cared about the appearance, but everyone has their own taste,” Hageman said. “It doesn’t really affect my business.”
Palumbo said he knew the idea of a German-themed beer garden wouldn’t be popular with everyone.
“It’s one of those things people are going to either love or hate,” he said. “But now, this has happened. Maybe it’s an opportunity for somebody else to go in there and roll the dice on their dream.”