Skyzoo Gets Suspensions After Surprise Visit By Inspectors At “Naughty Cupid Party”

Thursday, February 21, 2013 - by Gail Perry

A joint inspection by the Chattanooga Police Department, the Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the Health Department revealed multiple violations at Skyzoo at 5709 Lee Highway, members of the City Beer Board were told Thursday.

The different agencies arrived at the bar around 11:30 p.m. the night of Friday, Feb. 8, with four officers to conduct a bar inspection, three ABC inspectors to conduct a yearly renewal inspection for a liquor license, and an inspector to do a Health Department check.

Prior to this night, City Councilwoman Carol Berz had received an email complaint about the establishment’s website, which she forwarded to the Police Department.

The bar had been advertising a “Naughty Cupid Party” for ages 18-20 and encouraged females to wear lingerie. There was no specific area designated for the under 21 age customers. Chattanooga Police Officer John Collins described the front area as being semi-well lit, and the dance floor with a DJ, strobe lights and girls dancing on the bar, very crowded and dark which made it difficult to see people. After his arrival, some people began leaving. “I have a reputation of ending a party” he commented.

Officer Collins arrested one underage male. He then noticed a highly intoxicated girl in a corner with big black X’s on her hands, which is the system the bar uses to indicate underage. She had no ID, was having trouble standing, and had very little clothing on. She was taken to the kitchen for questioning, where she told Officer Collins that she had had been drinking in the club and had heen served several “fruity drinks” by a male bartender. An initial breath-a-lizer test registered 2.5 with a second one showing 2.7. She was arrested and transported to the Hamilton County Jail. While there she asked Officer Collins why she had been singled out because all her other underage friends were also there drinking.

The male arrested, who was also a minor, told police that in the two hours he had been in the bar he had not been drinking there, but had arrived drunk. He was in possession of the ID of the girl who was being booked. An ambulance was called for a third extremely intoxicated male who was unable to stand and who fell on the floor throwing up.

In the meantime, Sergeant Mark Haskins was checking credentials of the security officers, one of which did not have a license, but did have a poor attitude as did the owner, he said. He testified there was a security guard at the front door along with someone selling tickets. There was also a guard on the deck and, according to the owner, Leonardo Dacoregio, there was someone walking around outside checking the parking lot.

The beer code specifies that no one is allowed to come into a bar who is intoxicated, and an intoxicated individual cannot be served alcohol. Questions posed to Mr. Dacoregio were: why the front door man allowed the underage and intoxicated couple in, and why did the bartender serve alcohol to both them and the male that was sent to the hospital. In reply, he claimed that of the 299 capacity those were only three people in the bar that were intoxicated and that it was impossible for any club to make sure 18-year -lds are not drinking.

After his testimony, Assistant City Attorney Keith Reisman questioned Mr. Dacoregio for clarification. First, neither you nor your security people were aware of anyone being intoxicated until the police arrived? Also, were there only three intoxicated people there that night? And prior to this night, you say that there have never been any intoxicated people in your establishment before? In reply, Mr. Dacoregio answered yes to all questions. This lead board member Andre’ Harriman to suggest that the 14,000-square-foot club was beyond his scope to manage. Kevin McKenna said that he looked at the facts concerning the violations. The laws are in place to keep people safe there and on the street. He said is a fact that “he’s not running an establishment that’s safe for the community.”

During the inspections, Officer Collins was also made aware of a large quantity of trash that had accumulated around the club's dumpster and the fence behind the building. This, too, is a violation of the beer code. Mr. Decoregio claimed that the garbage service truck spilled the bar debris when the dumpster was being emptied and he left it scattered about from Wednesday until Friday for proof. Despite the explanation, it is his responsibility to keep the area clean and a penalty was issued for a three-day suspension of his beer license beginning Feb. 28 through March 2.

Concerning the underage charge, a motion was made to suspend the beer license for 10 days immediately following the one issued for littering and will begin on March 3. The motion passed with five members voting to approve and only Ed Townson voting no.

At the meeting, applications for a beer license were made by a catering business, three restaurants and two convenience stores. Lemont’s Catering at 801 Dodds Avenue has been in business 22 years, and in addition to his restaurant, does off-site catering for up to 60 people. He was unanimously approved for a permit to serve beer.

The Family Market at 5601 Saint Elmo Avenue and Kangaroo Express #3607 at 6239 Highway 58, both convenience stores, were issued permits to sell beer.

Two special event licenses were approved, one for “Fork and Gavel” an annual fundraiser and silent auction benefitting Normal Park Museum Magnet PTA. It will be held March 2 at Warehouse Row from 6 p.m.-10:30 p.m. “Taste,”  being organized by Chattanooga Presents, is a fundraising event for the Kidney Foundation, with 20 locally-owned restaurants providing food and a chef’s competition using a secret ingredient to create an appetizer. This will be held at Stratton Hall on Broad Street from 5 p.m.-9p.m., March 7.

As the Wrecker Board, Doug Yates towing was issued a license to operate another recovery business to be known as Yates Towing and Recovery. This new business is located next door to the original company. Officer Collins said he had inspected all the equipment and confirmed that there were doubles of everything and that Mr. Yates had exceeded the requirements, training classes and certificates to get another license. Attorney Reisman stated that now Mr. Yates will be eligible to be put on the rotation list twice. His original business owns contracts to service wrecks for a number of trucking companies. Mr. Reisman said that these contracts must be specific to a particular company.


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