Beer Board Denies License For Boo Coe's

Thursday, May 16, 2019 - by Gail Perry

Raymond Hunter, owner of Boo Coe’s Sports Bar & Grill located at 2510 E. Main St., applied for a beer license at the Thursday morning meeting of the Chattanooga Beer Board. He had a license for the business that was there in the past, but it was surrendered in 2010 amid violence that took place in the area surrounding the business. The location is zoned M-2 which does not allow the sale of beer however, a business selling beer could have been grandfathered in, had a new permit been received within 100 days of giving up the old one. If there is a gap of 100 days without selling beer, a location loses its grandfathered status.

Mr. Hunter recently has been talking to officials from Chattanooga in the attempt to receive a beer license for his restaurant / bar and has been given four letters explaining that zoning prevents selling beer at the location.

Mr. Hunter contended that the grandfather status had never been lost because he has had a business license and has paid sales tax since 2010. Ever since 2010, he said he had rented out part of the building to be used for parties and those individuals had a beer permit. The board members replied that all restaurants have a license and pay tax, it does not mean he paid the tax on beer sales. Assistant City Attorney Keith Reisman added that the people who rented the building for an event hall, had received three citations for disturbances, yet Mr. Hunter continued to rent to them.

Randy Ridge from the Chattanooga Land Development Office told the board that his office has made the determination that Mr. Hunter lost the protection of non-conforming use when the 100-day window passed without getting a new beer permit. He had been given notice and the opportunity to apply for a zoning change to C-2 which would allow beer sales, at that time but had failed to do so, said Attorney Keith Reisman.

Melvin Martinez with the ABC testified that he had issued a liquor license to Mr. Hunter earlier this month. From the first inspection, he said it did not appear that the business met the requirement that 51 percent of sales was coming from food. Mr. Hunter later provided an updated menu which he believed did qualify the business as a restaurant. He said during the inspection there was food present, however there were no customers or cars in the parking lot. There are no zoning requirements to get an ABC license, he said.

Gary Ball who has a business near this location spoke on behalf of the Ridgedale Association which he has been associated with for 20 years. He said that they are in support of a better community, and recognized that this property has been in police discussions for many years. He said he was at the meeting today about property use. This building has been “an albatross” he said, Main Street is coming up. He said his best advice is for Mr. Hunter to hire somebody to help him get the property rezoned. If he runs a nice legitimate restaurant, he said he would eat there.

The board voted unanimously to deny a beer license to the business.

Attorney Reisman said that Mr. Hunter has 60 days to appeal the board’s denial. He also can apply to make a zoning change from M-2 to C-2 and get the zoning issue cleared up before reapplying to the beer board. The other issue, he said is that there is also a problem with his ability to run a business like this based on previous violations.

Two beer permits were approved on Thursday. The Hatch Outfitters, 3227 Brainerd Road is a fly-fishing outfitter shop. Tying flies is offered and the owners will be allowed to sell beer to the customers while they are working at the fly-tying station. IDs will be checked by the owners before serving any beer.

New China Buffet & Grill, 3536 Cummings Highway was also given a consumer beer license. The restaurant has been in business for 12 to 13 years but has a new owner, Zhiming Li which required a new beer permit.  

A decision was postponed from May 2 for a violation at HB Lounge, 2716 Dodson Ave. for being open past 3 a.m. when the business should be empty and closed. At 3:15 on March 30, Officer John Collins observed a large crowd outside and found 10-12 people still inside the bar. Owner Keveon Kennebrew said he had been outside trying to break up a fight that was going on. The business has appeared before the beer board three other times. There have been enough violations there that they need to feel some pain so they won’t come here again, said beer board member Brooke King. Considering their history, a motion passed for a three-day suspension that will start on May 23.

Chip Baker and Karen Shostak with Friends of the Festival were given special event beer permits for four events, all taking place at 201 Riverfront Parkway this summer. Riverbend 2019 will take place from May 29-June1. The experience will be different this year, said Mr. Baker. The music festival will have fewer days and better entertainment, he said, changing from an eight-day event to four days. There will be a Jack Daniels Whisky River Lounge, the Lookout Winery Club, and a Ferris wheel this year. Wristbands will now be radio Frequency ID’d and registered to the owner. Money will be put on the wrist band and it will be scanned for entry and for any purchases. IDs will still be needed where ever alcohol is sold. This method will eliminate the need for tokens.

Friends of the Festival was also approved for the Riverbend Run 2019 that will take place on June 8 from 7 until 10 a.m. and for the series of Riverfront Nights concerts that will take place July 20, 27, August 3,10, 17 and 24 all from 6:30 until 10:30 p.m.

A special events permit was also given for The Corn Hole Classic, a fundraiser to benefit ALS research. It will be from 2-6 p.m. on June 1 at The First Tennessee Pavilion. Wrist bands will be checked by the bartenders provided by the pavilion and a food truck will be available. 

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