The Chattanooga Beer & Wrecker Board on Thursday handed out punishment to three Tiftonia-area businesses for selling alcoholic beverages to an 18-year-old who was sent in to attempt to buy beer by Chattanooga Police Department Beer Officer John Collins. The minor actually visited nine establishments in the area on Sept. 8 and was carded and denied at five of them.
They were Browns Ferry Food Mart at 541 Browns Ferry Road, Mapco at 200 Browns Ferry Road, Star Tobacco at 115 Browns Ferry Road, Mapco at 3709 Cummings Highway and Tobacco Outlet at 3627 Cummings Highway.
The minor bought one can of Twisted Tea at both the Shiva Food Mart and Mapco Express, and a beer at the Odells on the Go on Cummings Highway. He was not asked for his identification at the Shiva store, which was being manned at the time by the manager's wife and not an employee. People under 21 are identified on driver licenses in Tennessee by vertical printing. The manager told the board he had stepped out for a few minutes to run an errand.
Shiva had its license suspended for three days and will be required to have all of its employees go through the city's new training program for selling beer.
The Mapco and Odells servers did check the ID but served the minor anyway. Having earned the designation of "Responsible Vendor," which means it had gone through an alcohol awareness training program approved by the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Mapco could not have its beer sales suspended but was instead fined $1,000 and its staff must go through the training, according to a vote by the board.
Odells, which just got its license last month, got a three-day suspension or a $1,500 fine and its staff must undergo the new training.
A fourth business in the area, Fireside Grill, was also cited but its case was passed to the July 7 meeting because city officials could not find a record of the business having a beer permit under the new ownership, which had taken over the restaurant five years ago, according to new owner Michael Chapman.
It was pointed out to Chapman by several members that he could be operating illegally and to do so until he can produce a valid permit to sell beer in the city would mean "he is operating under his own peril."
In other business, the board approved applications for special events for Oddstory Brewing Co. owners Bryan and Jay Boyd to hold an Octoberfest Saturday in the parking lot on Foster Street across from the building. The event will be fully gated and contained within the lot and inside the business, but not on Foster, which will be closed for safety reasons.
Also, Leslie Gower of the Association for General Contractors was granted a special event permit for the Big Pig BBQ Contest at 401 E. Main St. on Sept. 25. The event is open to the public but is primarily for AGC members and family.
Carla Pritchard of Chattanooga Presents, representing Bright Morgan Corp., was also granted a beer permit for the 14th annual 3 Sisters Festivals to be held Oct. 1 and 2 at Ross's Landing.
Businesses approved for new beer licenses were Wanderlinger for catering, Good Dog, which plans to open at the first of October, Janta Farmers Market, an Indian grocery store on Lee Highway, and Uptown Reload, a sports bar/club for people over 40, according to owner Charles Smith, on Glass Street.
The meeting was slowed on several occasions as officials with the city of Chattanooga and its police and fire departments tried to find documents in the online system that needed to have been signed, uploaded and approved by the proper city officials. Both Collins and Assistant Fire Marshal Bruce Hartung addressed the board at the end of the meeting to express their concerns about the new online application system.
"Me and Officer Collins and [regulatory bureau and administrative support assistant] Bertha Lawrence had the system streamlined before. It was much more streamlined when it was a people process."
Collins added that the online system "sounds good, in theory," but that it worked better when applicants could meet with a real person and be told exactly what the process would entail and what had to be done before the application would go before the board.
Hartung said it was his wish the members of the board would advocate to the city to find a solution for the current situation.
Contact Barry Courter at email@example.com or 423-757-6354.