This story was updated Tuesday, July 2, 2019, at 10:15 p.m. with more information.
A well-known downtown Chattanooga eatery and bar have been given a one-day suspension of its beer license or a $100 fine after a bartender was drinking alcohol while on duty.
The City Cafe and its bar, The Office, on Carter Street were given the penalty by the Chattanooga Beer/Wrecker Board Tuesday.
Jeffery Buckner of the Chattanooga Police Department said the manager on duty at the site reported to an off-duty police officer who was working at the facility June 1 that he was concerned the bartender was drinking while working. The manager had said he'd had three complaints.
Buckner, who was also at the City Cafe location, told the Beer Board that he talked to the bartender and noticed a strong smell of alcohol. She initially said she had nothing to drink, but later admitted to having two shots of vodka for her birthday.
Buckner said a sobriety test revealed she had a .15 alcohol level, he said.
Lee Epstein of the City Cafe/The Office said he has suspended the bartender for two weeks.
"She was guilty," he said, adding that the manager did what he had been trained to do. "He's there to protect the restaurant."
Epstein said the bartender would not come back to work until "she gets approval of the board."
Meanwhile, he said, the manager has been "let go," though that wasn't related to the Beer Board violation.
"He didn't work out," Epstein said. "Things didn't work out for him. It has nothing to do with this."
Board member Brooke Bradley-King said proper training of personnel is a way to avoid violations.
Epstein said he didn't have a license to train bartenders.
Dan Mayfield, another board member, sought the suspension or fine.
"There's a group you get with who can train employees," he said.
The penalty was approved by a five to one vote, with Bradley-King voting no.
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.
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