On Thursday, the Chattanooga Beer and Wrecker Board handed down suspensions for two area restaurants: Jimmy D's Sports Bar & Grill and Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill.
Jimmy D's owner James Farlow appeared before the board for violations of offenses involving minors, loitering and gambling.
The violations stemmed from the owner drinking on the premises and a NASCAR gambling game discovered during a compliance check, according to Chattanooga Police Department Officer John Collins.
Collins said that vice and narcotics officers were working off a tip that gambling had been occurring on the premises. The officers entered the bar March 6 at about 2 a.m. to find the owner intoxicated, he said.
"He was in the bar [and] he was drinking," Collins said. "There were empty Budweisers on the bar."
Farlow said he was drinking but claimed that he was drinking nonalcoholic beer.
"I was drinking O'Doul's," he said. "Ten of those is like drinking one Budweiser."
O'Doul's is advertised as nonalcoholic because it has less than 0.5 percent alcohol, according to the Anheuser-Busch website.
Farlow said he knew he wasn't allowed to drink at the bar, but has been doing it for as long as he has owned the bar—25 years.
Jimmy D's, located at 3901 Rossville Blvd., will serve a 10-day beer license suspension beginning April 13.
Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill general manager Dale Bent, along with Smokey Bones' attorney, appeared before the board for a violation of serving alcohol to a minor.
The violation came from a Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission compliance check, according to Collins.
Collins said that TABC conducted a series of checks in March and May 2016. Smokey Bones failed checks March 17 and May 26.
For those violations, TABC issued a 35-day liquor license suspension that was served by the restaurant in February of this year.
Bent said that in both instances the servers were terminated immediately and that he has implemented new procedures to prevent this from happening in the future. He said the restaurant has passed two compliance checks by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office since those incidents.
Smokey Bones, located at 2225 Gunbarrel Road, will serve a 35-day beer license suspension beginning April 10.
It is the Chattanooga Beer and Wrecker Board's regular procedure to match any TABC-issued suspension.
Fiesta Mexicana general manager Luis Aguilar appeared before the board for the violation of selling to a minor. The violation, brought to the board by TABC, came from a compliance check Jan. 26.
The TABC issued the restaurant a four-day liquor license suspension in February. Aguilar said during that time the restaurant did not serve beer.
Because of the voluntary forfeiting of beer sales during the TABC suspension, the board did not issue another suspension on the beer license. The board said that any establishment that forfeits beer sales while under a TABC license suspension does not need to be further suspended by them.
Fiesta Mexicana is located at 4021 Hixson Pike.
Other news from the beer board meeting
Mehul Shah of Paradise Petroleum LLC applied for ownership change of five beer licenses.
The ownership change is for five Chattanooga-area Circle K locations to become Kangaroo Expresses. The board passed all the changes.
The following locations will be converted to Kangaroo Expresses: 4806 Highway 58, 4858 Highway 58, 3407 Amnicola Highway, 5012 Hixson Pike and 2300 Jenkins Road.
Opa owner Michail Borodimos applied for a beer license for his Greek restaurant near Coolidge Park at 249 River St. The board approved the license. Opa has been open since November 2013. Borodimos said he will not be getting a TABC license to serve wine or liquor.
2 Sons Kitchen & Market, operated by Nathan Flynt, applied for a license to serve beer at the soon-to-open restaurant at 422 Martin Luther King Blvd. The board approved the license. Flynt said he would not be applying for a TABC license to serve wine or liquor.
Songbirds Guitar Museum site manager Jim Kelly applied for a license to serve beer at the museum for when they have weekend concerts. The license was tabled to the next meeting because of missing paperwork.
The Chattanooga Beer and Wrecker Board, which meets biweekly, has the power to issue beer licenses and permits, and to revoke or suspend beer licenses.
Eric Wise is a contributing writer. He is currently attending UTC, where he is a staff writer for the school newspaper, The University Echo. He also serves as the alumni relations chairman for his fraternity.