Two-Girdle Argument Does Not Help Bar On Wilder Street Avoid New Beer License Suspension

Thursday, October 3, 2013 - by Gail Perry

Two bars were issued suspensions at the meeting of the Chattanooga Beer Board Thursday morning. 

A second violation for the same offense in three months involved Jay’s at 1914 Wilder St. On the morning of Sept. 21, Chattanooga Police Officer John Collins said he noticed multiple cars in the parking lot at 3:05 a.m. Upon entering, he observed a dozen people with drinks and brown bags on the tables.

The owner, Johna Douglas, was behind the bar at the time and told him she was in the process of clearing the bar. She appeared at the hearing before the Beer Board and said the drinks on the tables were just water and the bottles were empty. She said those present at the time were herself, two people that work at the bar, two people there to repair a restroom and only six customers.  She said she generally begins the process of closing at 2:30 a.m. but had allowed customers to stay and use the restroom since only one had been in working order that night.

One of the customers that had been sitting at a table served as a witness for Ms. Douglas. She said she was one of the people in line at 2:30. “It took me about 15 minutes” in the restroom “because I had on two girdles,” she said. "Then my sister and two others were still in line."

Board member Kevin McKenna told Ms. Douglas that all the cars in the parking lot made it appear that the bar was still open. Andre Harriman told her that she should be in control over the patrons, and Phillip Sallee said people cannot be there after the closing time of 3 a.m., and that “it seems like you would have erred on the side of caution” since the business had just gone through a nine-day suspension in July. For this second offense, the board voted five to four to suspend the beer license for 30 days beginning next Thursday.

The charge of having gambling devices resulted in a three-day suspension of the beer license for Paddy’s Bar and Grill at 5603 Hixson Pike. Prior to the night of the Aug. 7 bar check, undercover officers had been at the establishment after receiving a complaint and observed people playing gambling machines. Officer Collins and Officer Mark Haskins responded with the vice squad the night of the bar check. They saw two video poker gambling machines out in the open that were plugged in and operable. They also found gambling slips for a NASCAR pool. The police seized $246 from the machines and an envelope that was marked “NASCAR Pool.”

Officer Collins said the machines had “knock-off switches” which makes them illegal. A credit is registered when money is put in the machine to begin playing. As play continues, more credits are earned. The switch is used to end the game and the player receives money for the credits registered on the machine at that time. Additionally, he told the board that an informant had seen the owner, William Pritchett, meeting an individual on Monday mornings to hand over money from the prior weekend.

The board voted 8 to 1 to suspend the bar’s license to sell beer for three days beginning next Thursday.

The board was functioning as the Wrecker Board approved the application for a wrecker license from Carter Towing at 7438 Lee Highway. This company has been in business in Chattanooga for 15 years and has a second location on Dodds Avenue. 

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