Staff photo by Tim Barber / Ollie Johansson, right, and Lena Wiksen, of Fristad, Sweden, take an evening walk on Market Street near the Pickle Barrel restaurant.

This story was updated Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, at 1:25 a.m. to correct the spelling of the bartender's last name.

The Chattanooga Beer & Wrecker Board found the Pickle Barrel in violation of its ordinance prohibiting staff from drinking or being drunk on the premises where they work. It gave the establishment the option of not selling beer for one day on Feb. 18 or paying a $500 fine.

The violation occurred at 2:30 a.m. on Jan. 16 when bartender Kayleigh Tonelli was found to have served herself alcohol after a customer stabbed another customer, who she said was a friend, during a fight. Officers responding to the stabbing suspected Tonelli of being inebriated while interviewing her about the incident and called the DUI unit, who arrived and administered a breathalyzer to her.

During testimony before the board on Thursday, Tonelli said she has worked in the food and beverage industry for 10 years, and at the Pickle Barrel for almost the last two years, and understands the rules prohibiting drinking on the premises where she works, but was stressed by the stabbing and took the drinks to calm her nerves.

"I rang it in under my computer screen," she told the board. "I sneakily did have a couple of drinks. I admit it. I do understand zero tolerance and have since been suspended. I learned my lesson and I will never do that again. It's not worth it. This is my career and job."

Pickle Barrel owner Ben Bowers said Tonelli is one of his best bartenders and believes she will not make the same mistake again.

Board members noted her admission of guilt, the mitigating circumstance regarding the stabbing and the restaurant's lack of prior violations while administering the punishment for the violation. Board member Chris Keene originally proposed a letter of reprimand but that motion failed.

It was the first violation the board has heard since the meetings began being held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. The board was also supposed to hear a second violation involving The Brew & Cue on Rossville Boulevard, which is accused of failing to report a fight or other public disorder on its premises. The attorney for the restaurant is quarantining after possible exposure to the virus.

In other action, the board approved applications for a consumer permit for Sonesta Select Chattanooga, a remodeled hotel that changed brands two months ago from the former Courtyard by Marriott franchise. The Sonesta Select obtained a beer permit for an adjoining restaurant on Bams Drive near Hamilton Place Mall.

The beer board also approved applications to sell beer for the new owners of Moccasin Bend Golf Club, Chipolte Mexican Grill on Cherokee Boulevard, Kinley Chattanooga Southside across from the Chattanooga Choo Choo and Burlaep, a coffee shop on E. 11th Street.

Burlaep owner Matthew Morris said the space is in a former warehouse and has a screen-printing shop in part of the business. He said he hopes to have one beer tap for offering local beers to customers in the coffee shop.

Ira Templeton III said he bought the Moccasin Bend Golf Club from the Haslam Group recently and intends to "make a better golf course for Chattanooga." He has owned the Creek's Bend course in Hixson for 45 years.

Contact Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354.