ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Staff photo by Tim Barber / Coyote Jack's in Chattanooga has often been the scene of violence.

This story was updated Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019, at 9 p.m. with more information.

The business license for the corporation that operates the Coyote Jack's nightclub downtown was dissolved by the state in July, which would have nullified its beer permit more than two months before Sunday's fatal shooting, according to documents obtained by the Times Free Press.

It was the third fatal shooting since 2016 at the Chattanooga nightclub, which is owned by Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke's uncle, Ronnie Berke, and his partner, Tammie Taylor.

The Tennessee Secretary of State's Division of Business Services dissolved Bankable Holdings, which is listed as the owner of Coyote Jack's, after it became more than 90 days delinquent on fines owed to the state's Office of Labor and Workforce.

A labor and workforce spokesman was not immediately able to verify the cause for the fines.

Businesses with more than $3,000 in sales must "obtain either a minimal activity license or a standard business license from your county and/or municipal clerk" and "are not allowed to operate until the license is obtained and posted in the business location," according to the Tennessee Department of Revenue.

According to a news release from the city late Wednesday afternoon, city officials issued a letter to Bankable Holdings, notifying the company that its license has been dissolved and, as a result, its beer permit is no longer valid.

That is because the beer permit was issued to the business and not the individual company members.

Document

City of Chattanooga letter to Bankable Holdings

View

Accordingly, beer should have not been served on the premises. The city has also shared this update with the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission to review the business owner's ability to sell liquor through its separate state liquor license.

In the release, the city says it intends to file a nuisance abatement complaint by the end of the week to shut down the establishment.

"We are moving as expeditiously as possible to ensure that residents in this area feel safe and secure in their neighborhood," City Attorney Phil Noblett said in the release. "We plan to file, by the end of this week, a nuisance abatement complaint in the Court because of the ongoing safety issues resulting from activities at the establishment which have caused injuries to patrons and the public."

A nuisance is defined, in part, as "any place in or upon which" unlawful sale of liquor or any controlled substances, quarrelling, drunkenness, fighting, or breaches of the peace are carried out or permitted, according to state law.

Any property used in connection with maintaining or conducting the nuisance, including money, is subject to seizure by law enforcement. Any seized property "shall be disposed of by public auction," the law states.

Police have been called to the Cowart Street address 470 times since the club opened its doors in January 2015, according to Chattanooga Police Department data. The venue is open for a total of 38 hours between Thursday and Sunday.

Ten people have been shot there from 2016 until now, three of whom died. And there have been nine "shots fired" incidents in which no victims were found.

Apart from alarms and self-initiated calls (usually by officers), the most common calls are disorders, of which there have been 61 — assault, 30; fight, 23; and shots fired/person shot/active assailant/stabbing, also at 23.

Noblett told the Times Free Press late Wednesday that the city still plans to hear two citations against the club during the Oct. 17 meeting of the beer board, but they had not yet obtained a copy of the liquor license and could not verify the validity of it.

A representative of the state beverage commission told the Times Free Press that a liquor license would not inherently be invalid if a business license was revoked, but that a dissolved LLC would not be able to renew a liquor license after it expired.

After the representative first said liquor license expiration dates were not public information, another representative of the office said details of the license would be provided at a later date.

The police department and city attorney's office have been working since Sunday's shooting, the 19th reported shooting incident at the club since it opened, to form a case for such abatement, according to Chattanooga police data.

"As the violence of this past weekend illustrates, it is time to take aggressive action to put Coyote Jack's on notice," said Chattanooga police Chief David Roddy. "The Chattanooga Police Department has been working closely with the City Attorney to take any and all action we have at our disposal to put an end to the violence we've witnessed at this location."

Both Chattanooga police and the city attorney's office have been in communication with the district attorney's office, which has been supportive of the investigation and willing to help with filing of the nuisance abatement complaint, according to the release.

Additionally, Hamilton County General Sessions Court documents show the business was $14,498.69 delinquent in rent in September 2017.

Rent of $11,000 was due every first of the month, according to court documents. Cow Art LLC, a company owned by a group of Chattanooga investors with restaurant experience, which owns the building, asked for possession of the property, all unpaid rent, and restitution for damages to property, attorney fees and all court costs.

It's not clear where the issue stands today, but the eviction filing remains "pending" in the court.

At least one other eviction attempt was made in October 2015. That case was closed.

According to Noblett, the city is not aware of the eviction attempts.

Neither owner responded to multiple attempts to contact them for comment between Sunday and Tuesday.

Sarah Grace Taylor can be reached at 423-757-6416 or staylor@timesfreepress.com or on Twitter @_SarahGTaylor.

Rosana Hughes can be reached at 423-757-6327 or rhughes@timesfreepress.com or on Twitter @HughesRosana.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT