This story was updated at 7:22 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, with additional information.
The Chattanooga Beer & Wrecker Board on Thursday heard its first beer violation case since the coronavirus pandemic shut down meetings at City Hall in March.
The board has been meeting via Zoom in recent months and Officer John Collins with the Chattanooga Police Department regulatory bureau explained to the board during its regular meeting two weeks ago that he had not presented any violations previously because the online format made it difficult for officers to present videotaped evidence.
Thursday case didn't require video and during the meeting, which was held via Zoom as they will be until late October, Gabriel Serrano, co-owner of Mexiville Mexican Restaurant on Market Street was given a reprimand for having customers on site with open containers of alcohol after 3 a.m. on Aug. 30.
Under new rules adopted by the city in the last two months, the board also required that Serrano and his staff get retrained on the city's beer codes. The board was not previously legally able to make such a demand.
City code prohibits alcoholic or malt beverages to be consumed between the hours of 3 and 8 a.m.Monday through Saturday or between 3-10 a.m. on Sunday. Collins reported that his office had received complaints from neighbors in recent weeks that Mexiville was operating more as a nightclub than a restaurant in recent weeks, staying open until 3 or later.
Serrano told the board that he had been staying open later, and said the problem stemmed from having only one person who was not properly trained working the door as security. Since being issued the violation, he has added two trained security people and improved the staff training on following the Tennessee Pledge guidelines related to COVID-19.
The board could have issued a fine, or suspended his beer license for a number of days, but chose to issue a reprimand because it was the restaurants first violation. Serrano was also reminded by Collins and the board that all customers should not only be out of the restaurant and all alcohol removed from tables by 3 a.m., but that it was important, though not a legal requirement, that the customers disperse from the parking lot, by then as well.
In other action, James Odum was approved for a consumer license to sell beer at Board & Brush Chattanooga in Cambridge Square in Ooltewah. The DIY woodworking studio had allowed customers to bring their own beer or wine to consume while they decorated pre-built home decor items.
Also Brandon Anthony was approved for a license to sell beer at American Draft at the Chattanooga Choo Choo. He recently purchased the pour-your-own establishment and said he plans to open it in late October as a traditional bar with a bartender until it is safe to reopen as a pour-your-own business if the demand is there.
Contact Barry Courter at email@example.com or 423-757-6354.