Worldwide Ministries, LLC doing business as “The Pony,” applied for a beer license at 115 Honest St., the former location of Babe’s Sports Bar and Grill. That bar, which had adult entertainment, is no longer in business. The application for The Pony stated that entertainment would be “dancing.”
Mike Dickerson, who is director of operations in Tennessee for Worldwide Ministries, and attorney Brent James represented out of town owners Charles G.
Westlund, Harry V. Mohney and Kenneth J. Kummerow applying for a beer permit. The building has passed building, fire and health inspections, but the owners do not plan to open until November once it is remodeled.
Attorney James said that all three owners had passed TBI background checks, which is required when opening a new bar. However, Beer Board Member Dan Mayfield had researched the owners on the Internet and said a simple Google search had found that “there were quite a few rap sheets for them.” There are currently, 71 locations of this bar across the country. “I’m concerned about human trafficking,” he said, and am afraid that it will transition into a “bikini bar.”
After being asked, attorney James said, “This location does have plans to become a bikini bar.” They are familiar with the requirements in the city’s beer code, and he said the location had been a bikini bar prior to Babe’s closing. Board Member Cynthia Coleman asked if there would be any more surprises. It was not on the application.
A bikini bar doesn’t violate a city code no matter how we view it, said Board Member Vince Butler. But to clarify the designation, he made a motion to postpone any decision until the board has answers to two questions. The first is what the definition of a bikini bar is. The second is that, although the zoning no longer allows it, the same type of business may be “grandfathered in” if it has been less than 100 days since the previous business closed. If it has been longer, the location loses the ability to be grandfathered. On Thursday that information was unknown.
During the time when public comments are allowed, the owner of Silhouettes Bikini Bar and Grill, another adult establishment in Chattanooga, spoke. He said he has operated for 11 years without any violations because he operates within the law and treats the ladies with respect. But he said he has "seen the negative side of the business" and that “we don’t need this group coming to Chattanooga. I know their tactics, he added. “Do your research,” he told the board.
Applications for beer permits that were approved by the beer board on Thursday include Element Hotel, a new 131-room Marriott hotel at 2312 Center St. Alcohol and beer will be sold in two areas inside the hotel - the lobby which includes a bar and lounge with the capacity of 52 and from the front desk where retail sales will be made for packaged beer that customers can take to their rooms, but not outside the building.
Lipman Brothers, LLC, a distributor of wine and spirits as well as beer, will be moving into an old building that is being repurposed at 5715 Uptain Road. The company’s headquarters is in Nashville. A distributor’s beer license was approved for the business that is strictly wholesale.
O’Dell’s on the Go, 3031 Cummings Highway, added a consumer beer permit to go along with the carry-out permit it already has. The owner had been seeing customers at the tables in the small dining area drinking a beer with their pizza. The beer had been sold as carry-out. He applied for the consumer permit, he said, to be legal once he realized people were doing that.