Local bar begins temporary booze ban

Posted at: 10/22/2012 7:18 PM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News

Starting Monday, Cowgirl, a popular Santa Fe restaurant and bar, will spend the next four days not selling any alcohol. Instead, they will be raising money for New Mexico Mother's Against Drunk Driving with the intention to send a bold message to the community about the dangers of drinking and then getting behind the wheel.

"This is a very big problem and we want to be part of the solution," Nicholas Ballas, Cowgirl co-owner, said. Ballas said half of all their lunch and dinner proceeds during the alcohol ban will be donated to MADD. "It's an issue that needs to be taken head on."

It has been nearly two years since Kylene Holmes and her friend were over-served at the restaurant. About six months later, the restaurant and its bartender were cited for it.

Ballas said the bouncer at the time even called authorities to try to stop the two customers from driving away, but they took off anyway and crashed head-on into an ambulance going the wrong-way on I-25. Holmes died and the other were severely injured.

"It's a tricky situation because it's hard to take somebody's keys away from them or prevent them from driving or blocking their car or whatever it would be, and our recourse had been, call the police, and that's what we did, and that's not enough anymore. You really have to take extraordinary measures for public safety," Ballas said.

An empty bar not serving any alcohol could be a bad thing for business, but customers told KOB Eyewitness News that the fundraiser is having the opposite effect.

"We're actually going to eat dinner and lunch here three or four times this week," customer  Valerie Ingram said, as she was sitting down to eat lunch Monday afternoon.

"There is a liability involved in serving alcohol and this is a good way to drive a point home," David Bohlen, another customer, said.

"I think it's really important that everybody should be here today eating," Lisa Green, who took her kids out to lunch, said.

The popular night spot will go back to serving drinks this Friday.

"We formulated this event with MADD as a way of kind of completing the last chapter in this very, very sorry saga," Ballas said.