Exit Signs Issue Leads To Possible Closure For Steelpan Restaurant; Sgt. Haskins Retiring At Beer Inspection Office

Thursday, December 19, 2013 - by Gail Perry

A small problem with a fire inspection issue led to a big problem for John D. Shoemaker, owner of Steelpan, a restaurant at 825 Houston St. Because of a change in ownership that occurred in May, the business was required to obtain a new beer license which, in turn, required new building, health and fire inspections. The restaurant, which serves Cuban food, would have received a beer permit if not for an issue with the exit signs that did not pass the fire codes, Sergeant Mark Haskins of the Chattanooga Police Department told members of the Chattanooga Beer Board Thursday morning. That problem needed to be corrected before a beer license could be issued.

Sgt. Haskins said he had made a point of telling the owner that because the restaurant did not yet have a permit, beer could not be sold. When he became aware that beer sales were continuing, on Dec. 5, Sgt. Haskins went to the restaurant in plain clothes and purchased a beer. A citation was then issued for selling beer without a license, which technically is a violation against the city since no valid beer license existed. As he was leaving that night, Sgt. Haskins said the business was complying by closing down the bar. That citation is pending in City Court and is set for January.

Mr. Shoemaker told the beer board that he holds a beer permit for another business, JJ’s Bohemia on MLK Boulevard, and that he had been issued a special events permit for Steelpan during the Bessie Smith Strut this summer. Despite being familiar with the beer codes, he continued to operate under the license held by the previous owner, blaming doing so on procrastination. He said he had "been busy running two businesses and let it slip through the cracks.”

For clarity, Vice Chairman Phillip Sallee asked Mr. Shoemaker why he had disregarded city codes and continued selling beer anyway for six months after being told it was not legal. "I have a staff in place and needed to keep them employed," he replied, in addition to his working 80 hours a week. “You’re digging a ditch for yourself, sir,” said board member Forestine Haynes.

A motion was approved to pass the application to the Jan. 16 beer board meeting with the condition that the old license be surrendered immediately.

Mr. Shoemaker commented that he would not be back for a permit because he would have to close the business down since it could not survive that long without being able to sell beer.

Three new restaurants were granted a consumer beer license. Cheddar’s Casual Restaurant at 2014 Gunbarrel Road, described as a “great value, casual dining restaurant serving large portions,” is part of a chain of restaurants based out of Kentucky and was unanimously approved.

Hillbilly Willy’s Bar-B-Que, 9203 Lee Highway, is the second location of this restaurant. It opened in October serving pork, brisket, chicken and ribs. The owner, Gerald Harwood, said to accommodate customer requests he was applying for a beer permit, but that the family-owned business closes at 8 p.m. and would not be considered a bar.

Opening date for Molcajete Mexican Restaurant, 6231 Perimeter Dr., Suite 127, is planned for Jan. 6. Adriana Sanchez was given a beer permit for the restaurant that will be open from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Sgt. Haskins, who has been in charge of matters relating to the Chattanooga Beer Board for the past 13 years and who has been with the Chattanooga Police Department for 29 years, is retiring before the first of the New Year. At his last beer board meeting, he introduced his hand-picked replacement, Sgt. Jeff Gaines, saying he was a “quiet, well-mannered, calm kind of guy” which is needed for this work.

At the final meeting of the year, the beer board members elected new officers for 2014. Phillip Sallee was elected to the position of chairman, Ron Smith to vice chairman, and Forestine Haynes to become the new secretary.


Case Of Drug Ring Involving Child Sent To Grand Jury

Felony drug charges against four individuals who admitted to involving a child in their alleged crimes were bound over to a grand jury after a Tuesday hearing. The alleged incidents took place back in February.  According to police, narcotics detectives were watching when a green jeep pulled into the parking lot of an apartment complex on East Brainerd Road. The ... (click for more)

Arrest Made After String Of Auto Burglaries Near Munro Road

A Chattanooga man was arrested and charged with a string of auto burglaries in the Munro Road area. Witnesses said they saw three men in a white Volvo drive up and attempt to break into a vehicle in a driveway on the street.  When police located the suspect car, they also found multiple stolen items, including a gun. They also found 21-year-old Steven Coburn. According ... (click for more)

Vote No On Health Insurance Changes Affecting County Teachers

Our Hamilton County School Board will vote on insurance changes effecting both active employees and retirees, who are not on Medicare at this time.  HCEA strongly objects to changes being made at this time and urges a “No” vote.  Insurance had been frozen three years by negotiations.  Since the Educators Professional Negotiations Act was nullified by the 2011 Legislature, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Al Sharpton’s Wise Remarks

I’ll admit I paid little more than scant attention to the Monday funeral of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old who was shot and killed by police bullets in Ferguson, Mo., after he allegedly was involved in strong-armed robbery. There are too many tawdry details and, in my way of thinking, there is nothing under God’s sun, absolutely nothing, that gives others the right to riot, burn ... (click for more)

After String Of Injuries, Ailments Vols' Maggitt Ready To Play

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Come Sunday ,  it will have been 659 days since Curt Maggitt played a snap in a college football game, but that's not what he's concerned about. "It's four days from now," Maggitt said Wednesday. "That's what's most important. It's going to be emotional for sure. It's been a real long time since I've been out there and ran through the `T' actually suited ... (click for more)

Fulghum, Walker Power Soddy-Daisy Past Cleveland

Soddy-Daisy’s Lady Trojans shook off an up-and-down performance in last weekend’s Early Bird tournament at Oak Ridge and throttled Cleveland, 3-0, in a District 5-AAA volleyball match Tuesday at Soddy-Daisy High School. The Lady Trojans (8-4, 2-1) swept the match with set scores of 25-18, 25-22 and 25-15. Abby Walker and Karigan Fulghum combined for 30 digs and 18 kills to ... (click for more)