published Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Southern Comfort appeals suspension of beer license

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A downtown bar will be able to serve beer this weekend after appealing a Chattanooga Beer and Wrecker Board suspension Tuesday.

According to a petition submitted to Hamilton County Chancery Court, Southern Comfort at 511 Broad St. appealed the board's 6-2 decision from Thursday that suspended the bar from serving beer for three days after it was charged with operating a disorderly place.

Chattanooga police arrested a few people outside the bar on June 2 after about 150 to 200 people mulled around on the sidewalk and a nearby private parking lot after closing time at 3 a.m.

About 10 officers, some of whom were already on standby, were on scene when the crowd became disruptive and refused to move, according to police.

"I can't be held responsible for sidewalk or parking lot. It's public domain," said Mark Chitwood, owner of the bar.

He said some of the traffic comes from people milling around from other bars who aren't allowed into his establishment after 2:15 a.m.

Police contend all the people come from Southern Comfort.

The petition filed by Chitwood's attorney, Arvin Reingold, allows the bar to serve this weekend. The bar will not have to undergo a suspension unless a Chancery Court judge upholds the board's decision. A court date was not set as of Tuesday afternoon.

In the meantime, the bar will continue to serve.

"I just want everyone to know it will be business as usual," Chitwood said.

Last week's violation to the beer board marks the fourth one for the bar, including one that later was dismissed.

Contact staff writer Beth Burger at 423-757-6406 or bburger@timesfreepress.com. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/abburger.

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