A Chattanooga restaurant and bar will either have to stop selling alcohol for three days or pay a $1,000 fine after overserving a drunk customer, the Chattanooga Beer and Wrecker Board decided Thursday.
The citation was issued after police stopped a man who was leaving The Big Chill and Grill in March -- the heavily intoxicated man took a Breathalizer and blew more than twice the legal limit.
Owner and veteran Chattanooga restaurateur Scarlett Bowman said she served the man a shot and a daiquiri and that he did not appear intoxicated when she served him. The incident happened on March 29, shortly after Bowman opened at her new location in the ground floor of an apartment building on Cherokee Blvd.
For 16 years previously, The Big Chill and Grill was on Market Street, where the restaurant had room for about 40 people. Now Bowman can seat 250 people.
“We were packed, and we didn’t expect it,” Bowman told the board members. “We were not ready. We didn’t have enough staff.”
Chattanooga police have received several complaints about noise, parking and congestion at the restaurant, said officer John Collins. But Bowman said that while the first two weeks at the new location were rough, she’s been able to hire new staff and is confident she can handle the crowds going forward.
“Now we’re fully staffed and we’re not struggling,” she said. “We have 12 people on the floor instead of seven, 8 people in the kitchen instead of five. We’re way better equipped.”
The board initially considered imposing a three-day suspension on the business, but instead offered Bowman a choice between a suspension and a one-time $1,000 fine, in part because of her impeccable record.
“I was on Market Street for 17 years and never had a problem,” she said.
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Shelly Bradbury covers police and crime in Chattanooga and Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She's been with the paper since 2012, working first as an intern and then as a business reporter. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint ...