Westside grocery store challenges Chattanooga Beer and Wrecker Board's denial

Westside grocery store challenges Chattanooga Beer and Wrecker Board's denial

June 27th, 2014 by Shelly Bradbury in Business Around the Region

Owner Moe Saleh stands in the aisle of One Stop Shop on Grove Street near downtown Chattanooga.

Photo by Angela Lewis Foster /Times Free Press.

The owner of the Westside grocery store that was denied a beer license last week said he will appeal the Chattanooga Beer and Wrecker Board's decision and will keep the store open.

Mohamed 'Moe' Saleh has owned One Stop Shop at 1221 Grove St. for two years, selling convenience items like soda and toiletries, as well as beer and some groceries. While the Westside neighborhood desperately needs a close place to buy food, police say the store has become a hot spot for loitering and illegal activity.

The beer board opted not to grant One Stop Shop a new beer license during a meeting on June 20, citing Saleh's previous violation of selling beer to a minor and the fact that a new charter school is opening across the street, as well as the history of loitering outside the business.

But Saleh is challenging that decision, and has hired long-time Chattanooga lawyer Arvin Reingold to argue his case.

"I'm not leaving," Saleh said. "I'm going to try to get my license back."

He said selling beer is critical to the store's business, but he has no intention of closing up shop. Reingold argued that the beer board's decision was arbitrary.

"It's very, very strange, this one," Reingold said. "It's intriguing what they brought up against the applicant. There was no basis for denying. It was almost like it was denied just because they didn't like Mohamed."

Beer board members said Saleh did not provide the full-fledged grocery store he promised when he moved into the neighborhood, and criticized Saleh's management of the store when they denied the new license.

But many neighbors still support the store. Resident Joe Clark said he's disappointed that the store sold alcohol to a minor, but said the store is critical to the neighborhood.

"To a certain degree, in my opinion, it would be bad [if it closed]," he said. "Because you've got to have a loaf of bread and a bottle of milk."

Reingold said Saleh is committed to One Stop Shop.

"He's not going anywhere," Reingold said. "He's going to stick it out."

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or sbradbury@timesfreepress.com. with tips or story ideas.