City Beer Board Hears Allegations Against Mike's Hole In The Wall

Thursday, August 9, 2018 - by Gail Perry

A business that received a beer license just a couple of months ago was cited to the Chattanooga Beer Board meeting Thursday for two different violations. During a bar check made jointly with the Chattanooga Police and Hamilton County Sheriff’s officers on July 26 at Mike’s Hole in the Wall, 535 Cherokee Blvd., a 20-year-old was found drinking beer in the bar area.

 

He told the officer that he had not been asked for an ID while in the bar or when entering, although he later told the police he had used a fake ID.

Attorney Buddy Presley, to prove the doorman did check the customer’s age, showed a surveillance video of him entering and being stopped. His position is that fake IDs are rampant and common, said Mr. Presley. He said that it is impossible to recognize every fake ID because some are becoming “flawless.”

 

“The inference that you are making is that the ID was false,” said Beer Board member Trevor Atchley, when he said it could have been just misread. Additionally, no fake ID was discovered when the underage customer was confronted by the officers. The board sided with Mr. Presley and owner John McClellan and agreed to give the business a choice between a suspended license, a $1,500 fine or a one-day suspension of the beer license.

 

The second infraction of the beer code at Mike’s Hole in the Wall was for use of the premise that was unauthorized by the permit. Also on July 26 during the surprise bar check, a beer keg was found in an outdoor area blocked off only by parked cars. People were able to serve themselves. Customers got cups from the bartender who checked age and issued a wristband.

 

 A beer permit allows outside use in a permanent seating area that is blocked off and which is entered through the restaurant. Temporary use is also allowed on the premise, in a parking lot with a special temporary permit, said Assistant City Attorney Keith Reisman. This case involved mis-use, he said, because no one was controlling the keg and cups. The bar contended that two doormen were watching the keg so that somebody was controlling it. Mr. Presley also claimed there was no clear definition of “premise” in the beer code. Mike’s Hole in the Wall was given the choice of a one-day suspension of its beer permit, to run concurrently with the first penalty, or to pay a $250 fine.

 

The Southside Social, 1818 Chestnut St., was accused of allowing an employee to consume alcohol at the employee's place of employment, which is not allowed by the city’s beer code. At 2:34 a.m. on July 15, Officer Jeffrey Buckner witnessed a collision on I-75. The driver who failed a sobriety test was wearing a t-shirt from Southside Social. She told police that she was a bartender there and had had four drinks before leaving work. She was arrested for DUI and, while being booked at the jail, she passed out, said the officer.

 

Joshua Long, the general manager of the business, found out about the incident the next day and watched the surveillance video. He told the board that the employee had clocked out at 10:11 and left two minutes afterward, never returning. She had been hired two days before as a server in training and had not once been behind the bar. “It’s my contention that she lied to the police officer,” said Mr. Long. “It’s possible that she was somewhere she wasn’t supposed to be, so she lied about it,” said board member Christopher Keene.

 

Officer Buckner’s body cam recorded her statements along with the images. On the film, Vice Chairman of the Board James Hobbs noticed a blue wrist band on the waitress’ arm. The Southside Social does not use wrist bands. That led the board to believe she had been drinking somewhere else during the three hours between leaving work and the arrest. The board voted unanimously to dismiss the charge against the restaurant.

 

Four special events were also given temporary beer permits. The Scenic City Mud Run sponsored by Road Runners Club of America will hold the eighth annual event on Sept. 1 from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at 5051 Gann Store Road at Greenway Farms. Beer has been donated from several sources for the event, said John Nevans. Proceeds will go to the Southeast Veterans Coalition.

 


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