The Cala Inn - Summit's County's Image in Celtic Fare

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Reprinted by permission - The Denver Post, Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Cala Inn

Technically a Celtic restaurant, The Cala is a neighborhood joint tucked away in a tiny strip mall off U.S. 6 near Keystone.  Hands-down some of the best fish and chips you’ll find this side of the Mississippi.”


Reprinted by permission - Summit Independent — Jan. 24, 2003.

It’s a pub! Cala wins hearing

By M. John Fayhee

The Cala Inn can call itself a pub till the cows come home, thanks to a 3-1 ruling in its favor by the county sign review committee Wednesday night. The Cala, located at the base of Summit Cove, had been cited by the county’s code enforcement department late last year because it displayed a sign – which was otherwise legal vis-à-vis its proportions and size and color and such – advertising itself as a "restaurant and pub." It was the "pub" part of the sign that caught the attention of the code enforcement people.

The County planning department, which handles these kinds of issues in the unincorporated part of the county, argued that the planned unit development (PUD) controlling the commercial center in which the Cala Inn is located did not specifically allow a bar to operate. The Cala was given permission to open two years ago with the understanding that it would function as a restaurant that happens to sell alcohol, rather than a bar that happened to sell food.

The county decided that by calling itself a "pub" on its sign, the Cala was precariously close to being perceived as a bar that happens to serve food – especially because the word "pub" was set right next to the word restaurant," which led the code enforcement people to believe that a critical permitted use distinction was being made.

According to Scott Pohlman, co-owner of the Cala Inn, the situation was causing problems for his business above and beyond nomenclature and image.

"We appealed their decision that the sign was illegal because we feel the word ‘pub’ is an ethnic term that conveys exactly what we are – a small, intimate establishment with a Celtic theme that serves both food and alcohol," Pohlman said. "We have always felt it’s the same thing as a restaurant calling itself ‘Mexican.’ But once we were cited, the process of getting our liquor license renewed was held up, and that was causing problems for our distribution people.

"We argued before the sign committee that the word ‘pub’ does not mean we are more of a bar than a restaurant," Pohlman continued. "They agreed and we are very happy."

Said Summit County planning director Jim Curnutte, "These kinds of decisions are not often overturned by the sign review committee, but that’s the reason we have this process. Volunteers from the community come together and examine the situation and make a ruling. In this case, the Cala won.

According to Curnutte, the process of issuing the Cala its updated liquor license will kick right back up, and now, everything is copacetic.

Well, almost. There is the issue with the other sign. According to Curnutte, the Cala has put up a sign on the south side of the Inn that is clearly and unappealable illegal.

"I talked to Scott after the hearing Wednesday night, and he agreed to take that sign down immediately," Curnutte said.

The offending sign, according to Pohlman, is illegal because it uses the name of the business.

"We’re only allowed to have a sign that says what we are, not who we are," he said. "We’ll just have to put something with our name on it up in the window."

The Cala Inn under construction last year...

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