Incomplete applications forced the Chattanooga Beer and Wrecker Board to move all five applications presented to it during a specially called meeting Monday morning to its regularly scheduled meeting to be held Thursday. The meeting was held via Zoom, as all of the board's meetings have been held during the coronavirus pandemic.
Attorney Tayo Atanda represented two Cracker Barrel locations, the Old Chicago Taproom and the Logan's Roadhouse, both at Northgate, and the downtown Big River restaurant. The latter three were part of the restructuring of restaurants once owned by Craftworks, which filed for bankruptcy in March and have new owners.
During its regularly scheduled board meeting on Sept. 11, Atanda asked that the board consider passing on the two Cracker Barrel applications, even though both had yet to pass their building and/or fire inspections because Cracker Barrel plans to begin selling beer and wine in its stores across the state on Oct. 3.
He told the board the stores needed time to train its staff. The Old Chicago and Logan's stores also had incomplete applications and the Big River store had not gotten its license yet from the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, so the application to get a catering license was moved to Monday. He assured the board at the time that all of proper paperwork would be completed in short order.
The board, however, declined to set a precedent by voting on incomplete applications and agreed to Monday's specially called meeting in order to expedite the applications, with the understanding that all needed paperwork would be complete.
On Monday, city beer inspector Officer John Collins told the board that the Cracker Barrel store on Shallowford Road had not passed it's building or fire inspections. He later added that the Cracker Barrel store on Birmingham Highway had not passed its building inspection.
Board member Chris Keene, who was not at the Sept. 11 meeting, noted that the board had agreed to the special meeting only four days before the next regularly scheduled meeting with the understanding that the applications were complete.
"I offer my apologies to the board," Atanda said. "I was under the impression that it would be taken care of."
He said the inspections found some technical issues that were being addressed.
Next on the agenda was the Old Chicago Pizza and Logan's Roadhouse at Northgate Mall. City attorney Melinda Foster told the board that she had discovered on Friday of last week that the driver's license for one of the three owners of the stores making the application had expired in the time between Sept. 11 and the Monday meeting.
Beer Board rules require two forms of identification, and those can include a passport, Social Security card or driver's license. Atanda said since they had just learned of the issue on Friday, the owner had not had the opportunity to renew the license, and that since the IDs were used in order to do a background check and that the check found nothing of consequence, the application should be considered at the meeting.
Foster pointed out that it is the applicant's responsibility and not the city's to make sure that the application is filled out properly.
She also pointed out that the Big River store had not gotten its TABC license and the board quickly voted to move the three restaurants to the Oct. 1 meeting, with the understanding that if either is not ready by Wednesday afternoon, it will be pulled and moved to the Oct. 15 meeting.
"We already have a very busy agenda for Thursday," said board member Brooke King, "and that makes for a very long day. I run my own business so this costs me money to be here."
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