The owner of T & B Lounge—located at 2407 Glass St.—said her beer license was unfairly revoked after detectives testified at the Chattanooga Beer and Wrecker Board meeting that complaints on the tip line led to a gambling and drug bust.
The beer board voted five to one to revoke the permit after both sides presented their cases.
Detective Vernon Kimbrough with the Chattanooga Police Department Special Investigations Unit said his unit made 11 arrests at the club July 31 after receiving multiple tips about illegal activities there.
Kimbrough told the beer board that detectives found cocaine, marijuana and Roxicodone pills during the bust, as well as illegal gambling tip books.
Trina Fugh, owner of the lounge, said that although she does not contest some of the charges, she does not allow drug use in her club, and anything that she could smell, such as marijuana, would not have been smoked within the lounge. Whether patrons come in with drug paraphernalia hidden is not under her control, she said.
“I was a little bit disappointed in the response as far as the vote because there were allegations made where some of them could have been true but not all of them,” Fugh said. “The part that really gets me is [Detective] Kimbrough, who gave some incorrect information.”
Fugh said in the past she has contacted officers when she needed assistance in her club, which has not always been beneficial.
“There are a lot of clubs that go through the same issue,” she said. “If the neighborhood is wanting something different, then you are automatically put out ... I just feel like you should give a person another chance.”
Fugh said she has owned the club for eight years and has used the tip system to give gifts as well as money to try to remain within guidelines and avoid being considered gambling.
“I think they realized there was a problem,” Kimbrough said of the owner's awareness of the gambling. “From talking to the owners, I think they wanted to correct the problem, but because of the number of people and the attitude of the people ... they were somewhat afraid to approach them.”
Officer John Collins told the board that his officers have also received complaints of loitering outside of the club.
Sonya Brewer, representative for the Hamilton County Coalition, said many people in the neighborhood have concerns about loitering and the level of crime around the establishment and have spoken with her about it.
“These people in the neighborhood, if I could speak for them because they were too afraid to come ... there are elderly people who live in the area who are afraid to speak out, there are young people who are afraid, there are children who, if they try to speak out or do anything, fights are started with them,” Brewer said.
Fugh's father, Thomas Williams, who was also present for the board hearing, told board members any disturbance to the neighborhood was happening after the location closes at 10 p.m. Before that, he said, he helps his daughter and clears the lot.
Another concern that could add to the issue of loitering late into the night is the lot adjacent to it, which is empty, Fugh said.
“We are doing the best that we can right now,” she said. “But when we come through after hours, they are there [in the lot].”
Fugh said she plans to try to appeal the board's decision.
“I feel that it would be helpful if the police officers would maybe come up with some sort of meeting to meet with the clubs in the community,” she said. “You want to shut down the clubs, but you don't want to come up with another solution?”