Chattanooga’s Blue Light can serve beer again, pending hearing

Staff photo by Olivia Ross / Blue Light is seen the morning of April 21. The club has had its beer permit reinstated pending a hearing in Chancery Court.
Staff photo by Olivia Ross / Blue Light is seen the morning of April 21. The club has had its beer permit reinstated pending a hearing in Chancery Court.

Station Street's Blue Light club can serve beer after appealing a decision from the Chattanooga Beer and Wrecker Board that revoked its beer permit for about a week earlier this month.

Beer board members voted to revoke the beer permit June 1 after finding the club failed to report a fight to police in April.

An attorney for the bar's owners appealed the revocation last week in a filing that called the board's decision "arbitrary, capricious" and without "cogent reason to sustain the 'violation.'"

(READ MORE: Beer permit revoked for Blue Light on Station Street after reported violations)

After a hearing Friday, Hamilton County Chancellor Jeffrey Atherton issued an order allowing Blue Light to resume serving beer until at least June 20, when a status conference is set in the Chancery Court case. Another hearing at which both sides' arguments will be heard is set for June 23.

"This is the second time the Beer Board has attempted to revoke the business's beer permit and the second time the courts have ruled in our favor," Blue Light owner Brian Joyce said in an email. "At this point the onus is on the city attorney and the Beer Board to explain why they continue to target our business — not on us to explain their actions."

The bar's beer permit was first revoked in early 2022 after a series of violations in its first several months of operation. Following an appeal, Joyce reached an agreement with the city that restored the permit on a probationary basis in exchange for the formation of a security plan that required Joyce to meet periodically with city officials. Beer board members said during the June 1 meeting that the latest citation violates that probationary agreement.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga Beer Board hears updates on security plans for Station Street, Blue Light)

"From my perspective, it is a place that's had ongoing issues and citations," beer board member Vince Butler said by phone Monday. "Any violation violated the agreed-upon order."

Joyce told the board June 1 that he didn't call police immediately because he was trying to calm the chaos at the bar and was already on the phone with his security company asking for more support at the time of the fight.

A video Joyce played during the board meeting showed Joyce on the porch outside Blue Light, smushed into a crowd, when a fight between two women broke out. Shortly after, a motorcycle backfired on Station Street, causing more chaos because people thought the noise was gunshots, Joyce said.

There were multiple Chattanooga police officers near Blue Light on Station Street at the time, said attorney Robin Flores, who is representing the bar in its appeal. Joyce also cooperated with police after the fight, showing officers security footage and providing information that led to one woman's arrest, Flores said.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga's Blue Light, Beer Board again at odds over settlement deadline)

"The board determined that despite the presence of numerous officers, and Joyce's in-person report of the incident and his active assistance with the officers' investigation, the board took the befuddling position that the Blue Light failed to make the report by telephone," the appeal said.

City code requires bars to have a landline that can convey the bar's location on a 911 call. It also requires beer permit holders to report "all fights and public disorders" on their premises to police, though the code doesn't specify the report must be made by phone.

City attorneys have advised the beer board in the past that reports need to be called in, Butler said. Representatives from the city attorney's office did not respond to requests for comment by phone and email Monday.

Contact Ellen Gerst at or 423-757-6319.

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