2 Bars Have Licenses Suspended By City Beer Board

Thursday, March 20, 2014 - by Gail Perry

The beer licenses of two bars were suspended at the meeting of the Chattanooga Beer Board Thursday morning.

A bar check was made at 1 a.m. on Jan. 24 by the Chattanooga Police Department at La Bamba Mexican Restaurant, 5425 Highway 153. The location is zoned C-2 which requires restaurants and bars to close at 11 p.m. unless they obtain a special exemptions permit. Officer John Collins told the board that when he arrived beer was on tables and about five customers were still being served.

The restaurant has been in business 10 months. In the last two to three months, owner Andres Garcia said he had been trying to find the right person or agency to contact to apply for the exceptions permit. He came to the meeting with an armful of paperwork to document the various calls and emails he had made in the attempt. Officer Collins told the board that Bertha Lawrence, secretary of the beer board, had given Mr. Garcia a list of phone numbers with that information at the time he received his beer license.

Mr. Garcia said he had called those numbers and they all led back to Ms. Lawrence. He had also called or emailed various city officials, naming Ken Smith and Ken Fritz among others. He said he never received answers from some messages he left and replies came after two weeks to others. It was not until last week that he finally got in touch with Randy Ridge at the city’s zoning department who told him to apply through the planning agency.

In the meantime, Mr. Garcia said some of his customers wanted to stay later than 11 p.m. Every Thursday the bar has Karaoke night and the night of the bar check the business was open when police arrived. He said this was the first and only time he had stayed open later than the zoning permitted. Officer Collins said he had prior knowledge and “reasonable suspicion” about the business being open after hours on other nights and patrol officers had noticed cars in the parking lot but they had not gone inside.

Beer Board member Christopher Keene said that even though Mr. Garcia had made a good effort that he had violated the beer code and made a motion to suspend the license for three days starting next Thursday. The motion received a unanimous approval.

William Pritchett, owner of Paddy’s Bar & Grill at 5603 Hixson Pike, came to the meeting represented by Attorney Stan Lanzo. Another bar check made on March 10 by Officer Collins and other officials found two illegal poker machines and evidence of gambling in the form of gambling boards for various sporting events as well as $1,130. At the time, Mr. Pritchett was given a citation in lieu of arrest and the machines were seized.

This is the second violation for the same infraction that the bar was cited for in August, 2013. Officer Collins had received tips prior to the bar check from an undercover officer who saw the machines, and he said two separate complaints had come to him from the mayor’s office. 

Attorney Lanzo asked no questions and presented no evidence, saying that there was a criminal charge associated with the incident that is still pending and he would not allow Mr. Pritchett to testify. This latest violation received the punishment of suspending the beer license for 10 days beginning next Thursday.

Davesh Patel is the owner of three gas stations. He has been in business since 2008 and has received no violations for selling beer or cigarettes during that time, and said he made daily checks to all of his locations. He applied for and received a permit for the newest one doing business as Super Mart at 5924 Brainerd Road.

Corker Honors Life Of David Abshire

Senator Bob Corker released the following statement on the passing of David M. Abshire, former U.S. ambassador to NATO and co-founder of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS): "I am saddened to hear of the passing of a great Chattanoogan, Ambassador David Abshire. From his distinguished service in the military to his time as ambassador to NATO and as ... (click for more)

Kelvon Dozier Faces Multiple Charges After Armed Burglary On Sunnyside Avenue

Police were called to a home on Sunnyside Avenue after the owner drove up and saw three men leaving the house and running into an SUV. The owner was also able to get part of the tag number. When he told police, they realized his description matched a vehicle they had pulled over earlier. Because of this, police were able to identify the driver and his address. The owner also ... (click for more)

A Vote For Education Is Critical In Tennessee

In a state where just 28 percent of eighth graders are proficient in math and 33 percent are proficient in reading according to national assessments, education is deserving of more attention in 2014 elections. Across the country, more parents are making informed decisions about their child’s education, but for Volunteer State parents without resources, choices are difficult to come ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Saban: ‘Ratings Don’t Matter’

When the first College Football Playoff rankings were released earlier this week, Alabama football coach Nick Saban got it right on the button when he shrugged, “I don't even care, to be honest with you." "To me, none of it matters, What does it matter?” he laughed at the Tide’s No. 6 ranking. “I mean, it only matters where you end up at the end. So what matters to us is how ... (click for more)

Owls Beat McMinn, 30-12, To Complete Unbeaten Regular Season

Undefeated. Sounds nice, huh. After a sluggish first half that produced only three points on a Laszlo Toser field goa., third-ranked Ooltewah came to life in the third quarter, riddled McMinn County’s defense with three Kelvin Leon touchdown passes in the third quarter and went on to beat the Cherokees, 30-12, at James N. Monroe Stadium to secure the school’s third unbeaten ... (click for more)

Notre Dame Clobbers Grundy Co. For 7-AA Title

Notre Dame coach Charles Fant is always hoping that his Fighting Irish football team can get off to a fast start. He never thought it would be as quick as what he saw Thursday night at Jim Eberle Field. With a District 7-AA championship on the line on an evening when they honored all of the fall senior athletes, a football game turned into a track meet and eventually a victory ... (click for more)