The Leaping Leprechaun Pub and Eatery, 100 Market St., was found guilty of two city beer code violations on Thursday morning.
Chattanooga Police Officer John Collins told the beer board that on the evening of Dec. 21 a saturation check had been made of bars all around Chattanooga with the intention of stressing the importance of getting drunk drivers off of the roads. An ABC officer joined the group of Chattanooga police that night and visited about 20 bars. At 11 p.m., the group stopped at the small bar, Leaping Leprechaun, which has a capacity of just 49.
On that Thursday night the bar was crowded with customers.
Officer Collins said that he had previously received complaints from other police officers about the establishment staying open past the legal close time of 3 a.m. when all customers are required by the beer code to be out of the building. The officers went back to The Leaping Leprechaun at 3:10 a.m. to verify that the bar was empty. Instead, they found 20-30 customers still standing around with drinks in hand. When the officers were seen, Benjamin Morgan, the bartender, tried to get people to leave, which was described as “mass confusion.”
The bartender told the board that he customarily got people to leave 10 min. before the closing time. He said it was not disregard for the law that caused the problem on Dec. 21, but that he was the only employee present that night and had been overwhelmed and lost track of the time.
As people were leaving, the officers saw visibly intoxicated customers walking out of the door with no prior arrangements having been made for a driver to get them home. Since there was no employee from the bar to help, the officers split up and “babysat” those customers until safe transportation was arranged.
Since then, a second employee has been hired to help control the bar and last-call is earlier than 2:50 a.m.
Beer Board Member Trevor Atchley told Brendan ODoherty, owner of Leaping Leprechaun, that in addition to the violations, the informality of and lack of procedures bothered him. He said it was obvious the place had been understaffed and that people had been allowed to leave when they were the most intoxicated. Board Chairman Ron Smith said this was not the first time it had happened citing previous calls made to Officer Collins asking him to check the bar.
The offenses were treated individually. A motion to suspend the beer license for Leaping Leprechaun for three days beginning Jan. 17 was given for the “hours regulated” violation. A three day suspension to run concurrently with the first, was also given for serving beer to intoxicated persons. These will count as two violations on the businesses’ record.
Two new beer licenses were approved Thursday morning. Bantam & Biddy, 728 Market St., Suite #112C, was approved unanimously for a beer permit. This restaurant was described as an “old school, hodge-podge chicken diner.” Alcohol will be served as an accompaniment to the food. There is a small bar area that only seats nine. There also is an espresso / desert bar. The business has been opened since Nov. 30 without selling alcohol. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served.
Fuji Steak & Sushi, 5437 Highway 153, received a new beer permit due to a name/ownership change. The people employed by the original restaurant will remain. The new owner was urged to have the employees retrained by a professional.