Altercation, Loud Music, "Zeroing Out" Entry Clicker Leads To Beer License Suspension For La Pachanga

Thursday, October 17, 2013 - by Gail Perry

A 30-day beer license suspension with the requirement that all employees attend a TIPS training program regardless if they have been to previous classes was given to La Pachanga Mexican Grill and Cantina at the City Beer Board meeting Thursday morning.

Officer John Collins and Sergeant Mark Haskins with the Chattanooga Police Department and two fire marshals did a bar check the night of Aug. 25 in response to complaints from nearby residents about excessive late-night noise coming from the bar at 5647 Brainerd Road.

A chaotic scene was described by Sergeant Haskins during the check that took place at 2:45 a.m.

A large number of customers were in the process of leaving as the bar prepared to close. Officer Collins first conducted a sound check from the house located nearest to the bar. The noise meter showed a level of 77 decibels, exceeding the 50-decibel maximum allowed by the beer code. In layman’s terms, he said amplified sound could be heard over 50 feet away from the source. The resident of a house that is a half block from the bar testified that for several months he has been unable to sleep until the bar closes on Saturday nights because of the noise. Since the night of the bar check several other noise complaints have been received.

Officer Collins then proceeded to the parking lot where he and Sergeant Haskins began checking IDs. Of the first 15-20 that were inspected, only one proved to be valid, and that one belonged to a 20-year-old who had on a green wrist band to designate that service would be allowed. He admitted that he had been drinking in La Pachanga and was arrested for underage drinking.

In the meantime, Sergeant Haskins was questioning an intoxicated customer when another joined in and became belligerent. Officer Collins' attention then turned to helping secure his partner’s safety which was considered more important than making more arrests. A call was made for additional responders and four other police cars arrived. The officers were attempting to question the manager and owner. Two other arrests were made stemming from the altercation with Sergeant Haskins, one for disorderly conduct and another for public intoxication.

The two fire marshals that accompanied the officers for the bar check are customarily accompanied by an armed officer, but went into the building alone because no policeman was available. To check the occupancy, one marshal asked to see the clicker at the door. The doorman’s response was “to zero it.” He then told the officer the cover charge was $10, so he could count the bills himself. Despite a fire that occurred at that location in May of this year, two exits were found blocked with interior obstructions and the door leading to the deck was chained and locked.

A unanimous vote that combined all violations resulted in the suspension given to the bar. The penalty will begin Oct. 31.

Application for a consumer/carry-out beer license came from and was given to the new airport concessionaire, Tailwind CHA. This company is assuming the operation of the gift shops and restaurants at the Chattanooga Airport. Their hours of operation begin at 4:30 in preparation for the first flights out in the mornings, and closing times vary from 8-10 p.m. or later if flights are delayed.

There will be two locations that serve food and beer, one in pre-security and one in post-security. It will be necessary for the bar area where beer will be kept to have a different name than the space designated as a restaurant. A separate name will be required in order for it to be designated as a space which can be isolated, cordoned off and closed until 8 a.m. as defined in the Chattanooga Beer Code.

A license to sell carry-out beer was granted to Tiger Management Group, LLC, which previously operated Golden Gallon convenience stores in Chattanooga, for The Market #280 at 5010 Hunter Road in Ooltewah. This new business was described as a pay at the pump gas station with a food bar and TCBY as well as having a drive through car wash.

Eagle Express #3 at 5124 Hixson Pike was also authorized for a carry-out beer permit. Their hours of operation are from 6 a.m.-11 p.m.

Beer permits for special events were approved for three upcoming fundraisers. On Nov. 2 from 6-10 p.m., Green/spaces/The Joint will hold “The Block” - a party that will be held at the new High Point Climbing Wall inside the Bijou building at 219 Broad Stt. This event will be sponsored by a combination of organizations with proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity.

Beer sales will also be allowed for the Pumpkin Smash at Crabtree Farms, 1000 E. 30th St., on Nov. 2 from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. This will be a family-friendly fall farm festival that is one of five fundraising events held each year for Crabtree Farms. People will be able to bring their used jack-o-lanterns to smash and they will be turned into compost.

An annual fundraiser for SORBA (Southern Off- Road Bicycle Association), Ales for Trails, will raise money for building mountain bike trails. This event will be a cookout with beer available and will be held at Outdoor Chattanooga, 200 River St., on Nov. 16 from 6-11 p.m.

Haven & Ale, a craft beer and tasting room, is exploring the possibility of opening a second location at the new development Cambridge Square in Ooltewah. The operators were given approval to sell beer in sealed growlers from a kiosk in the square at 9407 Lee Highway on Fridays from 5-9 p.m. and Saturdays from noon-9 p.m. from Oct. 25-Nov. 16.

The marketing director of Cambridge Square, James Allen Cheney, applied for and was given a special events beer permit for a promotional event on Oct. 26 from 4-8 p.m. Cars will be blocked from entering the square so it will be pedestrian friendly and music and food trucks will be available in addition to the beer which will be sold by Haven & Ale.

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