CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated Alan Gold's license would be suspended starting May 13, it is has been fixed to show the correct date of May 18. An incorrect thumbnail photo has also been replaced.
Alan Gold's had its beer license suspended for two weeks by the Chattanooga Beer Board on Thursday because the longtime gay bar didn't report a Feb. 26 assault.
Chattanooga police Officer Cornelius Gaines testified that Tyler Taylor, a bouncer at the bar, got patron Billy Oliver on the ground at 1 a.m. and hit Oliver in the face until "his head was bouncing off the floor like a basketball."
A criminal warrant for aggravated assault was issued for Taylor, who fractured a bone in Oliver's face, knocked out one of Oliver's teeth and left him covered with blood, said Officer Gaines, who interviewed Oliver in the emergency room at Erlanger hospital.
The bar's owner, Gary Milligan, said that while Taylor had worked in the past doing security at the bar, he wasn't doing so that night — a claim that was immediately disputed at the meeting by Chattanooga police officer John Collins and by Oliver's girlfriend.
But Assistant City Attorney Keith Reisman said that was a matter for the Criminal Court to decide; the beer board's only concern was whether Alan Gold's had called 911 to report the fight. Milligan admitted the bar hadn't reported the incident.
"In hindsight, I made a mistake," he said.
Milligan said the bar hadn't had a violation during the 28 years it's had a city beer permit, which prompted beer board member James Hobbs to make a motion — which no one seconded— that the bar get a letter of reprimand.
Then beer board member Lee Dear made a motion to suspend Alan Gold's beer sales for two weeks, which was seconded by Trevor Atchley.
"This is a serious violation, and it should be dealt with accordingly," Dear said, before his motion passed 5-2 with Hobbs and board chairman Christopher Keene opposed.
"I think that's way too harsh," Keene said, though he added "the lack of professional security concerns me."
Milligan had testified that the bar's bouncers aren't trained security guards.
Alan Gold's beer sales suspension will start at 8 a.m. on May 18 and end at 3 a.m. on June 2, Reisman said. The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission will decide, separately, whether to suspend alcohol and wine sales at the bar.
Lit Hookah shuts down
On Thursday, the owner of another local bar, the Lit Hookah Lounge and Bar at 388 Somerville Ave. off Cherokee Boulevard in North Chattanooga, surrendered his beer license after police said the bar had a history of noisy, unruly gatherings with parked cars jamming the neighborhood.
The hookah bar will close, said its owner, Sujalbhai Dilipkumar Patel, at the outset of an hour-long discussion of four violations that resulted in the board approving a 30-day beer sales suspension at the hookah bar.
The beer board cited Patel for not allowing the police and fire department to access the building on April 7, and said that on April 22 an employee drank beer on the job and a few grams of marijuana were found inside the building.
Patel, who made arguments against all the violations — including that a customer may have stashed a purse with marijuana inside it in an ice chest for bottled water — said he was closing the hookah bar because he lives in Knoxville and doesn't have time to manage the business personally.
Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at email@example.com or www.facebook.com/MeetsForBusiness or on Twitter @meetfor business or 423-757-6651.
This story was updated May 4 at 10:30 p.m. with more information.