Hogadon

The new lodge at Hogadon Basin Ski Area, pictured in August, will make it easier for skiers to purchase passes and rentals. It will also offer a bar area with indoor and outdoor seating.

Alan Rogers, Star-Tribune

Skiers, snowboarders and others visiting the Hogadon Basin Ski Area’s new lodge will soon be able to order a drink.

After weeks of consideration, Casper city leaders approved a resort liquor license for the city-owned facility Tuesday night.

The Casper City Council had previously discussed the potential risks of serving alcohol at the top of Casper Mountain, but most members agreed Tuesday that citizens can be trusted to make wise decisions.

“People drink responsibly for the most part,” said Councilman Jesse Morgan, explaining that he had attended safe events on Casper Mountain that served alcohol.

Stating that the lodge’s main draw is skiing or other outdoor activities, Councilman Dallas Laird said he doubted it would attract a binge-drinking crowd.

“I’m confident this will be a well-run facility,” he added.

However, Councilman Chris Walsh objected to the license due to safety concerns. Cautioning that “things will slip through the cracks” when liquor is consumed, Walsh said he did not want the city to have any responsibility for alcohol-related incidents.

The new lodge was recently completed after about a year of construction.

Skiers and snowboarders used to complain about a variety of issues at the old lodge: The building wasn’t handicapped-accessible, there weren’t enough bathrooms and purchasing ski passes and rental equipment involved going to separate locations.

But the new two-story facility features multiple bathrooms, an elevator that makes the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and enough space to allow ski passes and rentals to be purchased in the same place.

The lodge does not offer nightly accommodations, which previously would have disqualified it from receiving a resort liquor license.

State law formerly mandated that resort liquor licenses could only be issued to resorts that offered lodging, a convention space and restaurant, and could show proof they had invested at least $1 million in their facility, Casper’s Assistant Support Services Director Pete Meyers previously told the Star-Tribune.

But a recent legislative change means there are now two ways to qualify for the license.

Under state law, ski resorts aren’t required to offer lodging to receive a license, provided they can show proof of having invested at least $10 million into their facility, according to Meyers.

Being eligible for resort liquor licenses can be advantageous for a business. Bar and grill liquor licenses are less flexible because they require the establishment to make 60 percent of its profits from food, and competition to receive a full retail liquor license tends to be tight, said Meyers.

Hogadon’s lodge wasn’t the only establishment that was approved for a liquor license Tuesday night: Council also approved a bar and grill liquor license for Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant.

After successfully operating in Casper for about 20 years, owner Maria Michel previously told the Star-Tribune that she believed the CY Avenue establishment deserved a license.

Potential customers frequently stop by to ask if the business has a bar, she explained.

“Sometimes they just leave because we don’t,” she said.

Michel thanked the council on Tuesday night and said she was looking forward to the new addition.

Katie King covers the city of Casper.

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Katie King joined the Star-Tribune in 2017 and primarily covers issues related to local government. She previously worked as a crime reporter in the British Virgin Islands. Originally from Virginia, Katie is a graduate of James Madison University.

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