Two special events are planned for Chattanooga beginning in May. Green/Spaces, the organization whose purpose is to raise awareness of environmentally smart options and to care for natural resources and quality of life, is sponsoring “The Floatila.” Beginning at 10 a.m. on May 18, the fundraising event will start at Rivermont Park, with around 100 rafts, inner tubes, kayaks, canoes and “make-your-own-vessels” participating in a float down the river that will end at Coolidge Park. The awards ceremony and after-party will have food, beverages and music. At the Thursday morning meeting of the Chattanooga Beer/Wrecker Board, Anj McClain representing Green/Spaces was granted a special event beer permit for the occasion which will take place from 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Friday night begins the 25th year of Nightfall, the free concerts held at Miller Plaza. This year, the shows will be held weekly without interruption during the Riverbend festival. Opening acts that showcase local musicians will start each performance at 7 p.m. followed by the headliner at 8 p.m. As in the past, IDs will be checked at one location where wristbands will be issued, and beer sales will take place at another. The beer board gave unanimous approval to the producer of the concerts, Chattanooga Presents, for a permit to sell beer at the concerts each Friday night from May 3-Aug. 30, from 6-10 p.m.
The beer board also gave a beer license to two Mexican restaurants. Mojo Burrito has three locations. It has been in business for 10 years at 3815 St. Elmo Ave. Because of a name change, the owner Eva Joyner Williams was required to apply for a new license which was unanimously granted. This restaurant has occupancy of 35 with additional seating outside. Hours of operation are from 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
The new owner of La Bamba Mexican Restaurant at 5425 Highway 153 was also given approval to sell beer. The restaurant has been reconfigured to separate the bar from the restaurant area in order to create a family-friendly atmosphere. From Sunday through Thursday, hours will be from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday it will close at 10:30 p.m.
Members of the beer board showed consideration for Yasser Thabet-Ahmed Hasan who purchased Smoke 1 Tobacco on 2101 McCallie Ave. two weeks ago. He made the considerable investment of $50,000 down on the sale of $120,000 for the business, unaware that a violation is pending for the previous owner at that location. In July an undercover agent was able to buy synthetic narcotics at the business and the case has now been bound over to the Grand Jury. Mr. Hasan made application to the board Thursday, for a permit to sell beer at the business that also sells tobacco products.
The beer code specifies that a pending violation for the location of the business must be resolved before a new license is issued. It may take anywhere from three months to a year for the case to be decided in the court system. Attorney Mike McMahan told the board that because the new owner has no association or relationship to the previous owner, that issuance of a permit will be up to the discretion of the board. Vice Chairman of the Beer Board Phillip Sallee made a motion to table the matter until the next meeting on May 16, saving Mr. Hasan the cost to reapply.
Mr. McMahan will make contact with the District Attorney and Chattanooga Police Officer Mark Haskins said that the original owner will be cited to come to the beer board meeting on May 16 or June 1 to be questioned along with Mr. Hasan in order for the board to make a decision.
Discussion of the status of a name change from Envy Ultra Lounge at 5647 Brainerd Road to La Pachanga Mexican Hill and Cantina followed the beer applications. The business is remodeling and changing the occupancy along with changing the name. Officials with the fire department and Chattanooga police department told the board that they have reason to believe the changes are an attempt to circumvent the fire sprinkler ordinance which is very costly and is not required of a restaurant. They also believe the business is trying to operate under the existing beer permit. It was noted that because of the remodel, additional inspections will be needed in addition to a health department certification. The matter was deferred to the meeting on May 16.
To be granted a license for selling beer, a business must meet health and safety requirements from the fire, building and health departments. It is common for an establishment to apply for a permit before all conditions have been satisfied. In certain circumstances in the past, the beer board has issued a license contingent upon completion of the missing requirements, such as possession of a land line telephone. After discussion of this practice, Mr. Sallee made a motion to deny the issuance of contingency licenses in the future. This new policy received a unanimous vote of approval.