Cracker Barrel, Old Chicago, Logan's Finally Get Beer Permits

Thursday, October 1, 2020 - by Gail Perry

After the third attempt, four restaurants were approved for beer sales by the City Beer Board on Thursday.


Two locations of Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom and two Logan’s Roadhouse restaurants were acquired by Specialty Restaurant Group II, LLC from Craftworks Holdings in a bankruptcy sale. A new beer license was needed at the businesses because of the ownership change. A new beer license requires new building, fire and health inspections.

During these inspections, deficiencies were found at some of the locations preventing the board to issue new beer permits at the Oct. 17 meeting.


The beer board set up a special meeting so these restaurants could be approved before their target date to sell beer on Oct. 1. At the special meeting, Tayo Atanda, the attorney representing the businesses, told the board that the driver’s license of one of the business owners had expired so that his proof of citizenship and background checks were not done. The board again declined to issue beer licenses until this information could be verified.


At the Thursday beer board meeting, the third time Mr. Atanda had appeared on their behalf, he told the board that the ID requirement had been satisfied by finding an alternative form of ID to replace the expired driver’s license, which resulted in the approval all of the restaurants for beer permits.


Mr. Atanda, also representing the Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores at 2346 Shallowford Village Road and 50 Birmingham Highway, received approval for a new beer license for both of the locations after issues with building codes have been corrected and the restaurants were approved by the building inspector.  The traditionally family style restaurants will now be selling both beer and wine in the Tennessee locations.


The beer permit application of four other businesses on the agenda were mired in mistakes or misunderstandings in filling out their applications, information sent to the regulatory board too late to process it, and technical difficulties in communications for both the applicants and the city of Chattanooga. Bertha Lawrence, of the regulatory bureau who provides administrative support for the Chattanooga Beer Board, said that beginning Oct. 15 all applications will be done electronically as opposed to the way it is done now on paper. If there is anything incomplete, the process will not allow the applicant to go forward in filling it out. This may clear up some of the confusion such as what was experienced today, she said.


Renovations are being made in the three locations that sell beer within The Chattanoogan hotel, 1201 Broad St. And, the rooftop pool area has now been converted to a bar. Manager John Tampa applied for a license to sell beer at this fourth location in the building. The addition means a change to the existing license that already includes a bar, restaurant and banquet facility. The change to the license triggered the need to reinspect all locations in the building that are covered by the license. The general contractor that did the construction requested an inspection, but only of the new space. Assistant City Attorney Melinda Foster said her opinion is that all outlets selling beer must go through the inspections required by the beer board. When issued, the new license will include four locations within the hotel.


Despite Mr. Tampa’s belief he was applying for a separate beer license, all four locations were on the application. Ms. Lawrence stated that “we can’t determine what is supposed to be on the application, only what is on it.” Another problem identified with issuing a beer license came from Lou Gibbs with the city treasurer’s office, who told the board that there is no record of the hotel having a business license. After a contentious discussion, the board denied a permit until the requirements have all been met.


Easy Bistro & Bar, 801 Chestnut St., needs a new beer license because of an ownership change. On the application, Erik and Amanda Niel were listed as the owners. Two additional owners had been mistakenly omitted from the paperwork. Those names were sent to the beer board on the morning of the meeting which did not allow enough time to verify their information regarding background checks and citizenship. Despite the fact that the restaurant has been in business for 15 years and needs the new license because of a move and the ownership change, the approval was denied until all information has gone through the proper channels. The restaurant is currently open and has a TABC license so alcohol can be served, just not beer.


Bar Watson, 6925 Shallowford Road., was also applying for a new license because of new ownership. David Gardner, who purchased the business that previously was The Palms at Hamilton, was given information by an attorney that differed from Attorney Foster’s opinion. Mr. Watson was under the belief that a special exemptions permit from the city would be extended to the new business. This permit allowed the old business to operate past midnight. This application was passed to the next meeting of the beer board on Oct. 15 at which time missing information should be available concerning the special exemptions permit. There is also no record of a valid business permit at this time.


Jay Chaudhari, who will be the store manager of Kanku, 1265 E. 3rd. St., joined the meeting to represent his cousin, Kanta Chaudhari, the owner. Attorney Foster said that the speaker for an applicant must be listed as an owner or lawyer representing the applicant. After multiple failed attempts to join the Zoom meeting, the owner gave permission to Ms. Foster to allow her cousin to speak on her behalf. He told the board there will be new training of all employees and there will be a new point of sales system to determine if customers are the legal age for buying beer. The carry-out beer permit was approved.



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