Beer Board Holds Special Session So North Chattanooga Publix Can Open Wednesday

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The grand opening of Publix grocery store at 400 North Market St. is Wednesday at 7 a.m. Thanks to special efforts by Chattanooga’s fire and building inspectors the store received a certificate of occupancy, and because the Chattanooga Beer Board called a special meeting, beer sales will be allowed.

At the last meeting of the Beer Board the new building did not have a certificate of occupancy due to a problem with the fire alarms and sprinkler systems. Without certification from the fire and building inspectors a beer permit could not be issued.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the board is Aug. 7, the day after the store opening. The board recognized the importance of the grocery store opening in that location and approved the motion to have a special meeting on Thursday to help.

Problems persisted up until this week with the fire inspector going to the store twice in one day to help with the issues that had caused the inspections to fail. The fire department pulled one of four inspectors from another job the following day to get the store ready to open by the deadline. All of the building codes and zoning ordinances have now been satisfied, said Assistant City Attorney Keith Resiman.

The procedures that the grocery store has in place to prevent underage sales and sales to any impaired customer also satisfied the beer board. Lee Hinckley, district manager for Publix, told the board that to prevent sales to minors, extensive training is given to all employees. The managers have annual training and cashiers are trained by a management team on a one-to-one basis as well as individually with computer based courses.

A cashier’s birth date is entered into a register that prevents them from scanning alcoholic beverages if they are under the age of 18. A representative from the customer service staff or management team that is of legal age is called to scan the beer and complete the transaction. Cashiers and managers have the ability to deny any sale, said Mr. Hinckley.

 A monthly beverage check is also performed with one store in the district being audited each month, unannounced. If a cashier fails the check they must be re-trained and will be tested again, unannounced. A second failure may result in job loss, he told the board.

 The store will be open from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. seven days a week. Beer cannot be sold before noon on Sundays.

Tiki Finlayson is the founder of “1N3,” an organization that she started in memory of her son who was killed by a drunk driver three years ago today. The goal of the group is to educate the public about a 100 percent preventable crime that impacts one out of three people.

“I stand before you as his voice,” she said. After leaving a party, a person that was intoxicated went to Bud’s Sports Bar, 5715 Brainerd Road, where they were served and despite being impaired were allowed to drive away. That customer crashed into her son’s vehicle.

 In her third appearance before the beer board imploring for their help to prevent drunk drivers, Ms. Finlayson thanked them for doing a job to help keep the community safe. In response, board member Christopher Keene said of her work, “You have had an impact. It has made me stop and think and see the pain. It has made me a better member of the board. Thank you.”

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