On Thursday, the Chattanooga Beer and Wrecker Board handed down punishments to several restaurants and gas stations.
Ruth's Chris Steak House, Ichiban Japanese Steak House, Rossville Billiards and two gas stations—a Raceway and a United Gas & Food—each received beer license suspensions.
Ruth's Chris owner Mark Oswald appeared before the board for a violation of sale to a minor.
The violation stemmed from a Hamilton County Sheriff's Office and Hamilton County Coalition compliance check during which two underage patrons were served beers without their IDs being checked. HCSO Officer Marty Ray said they were working on a tip that Ruth's Chris servers did not check IDs.
Oswald said that his server did serve beer to two underage individuals without checking IDs. The server was terminated the following day. He said that he and his partners are shocked that this happened in one of their restaurants.
"I've been in the restaurant business for 41 years, and this is the first time anyone under my ownership has ever had a violation," Oswald said. "We realize that where we failed was not reminding everyone to check IDs each shift."
The restaurant had recently passed three Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission compliance checks.
Ruth's Chris Steak House, located at 2321 Lifestyle Way, will serve a three-day beer license suspension beginning May 4.
Taehou Lee and Hector Fuentes, managers at Ichiban Japanese Steak House, appeared before the board for a violation of sale to a minor.
The violation came from a follow-up compliance check on a TABC violation, Chattanooga Police Department Officer John Collins said. He said the waitress checked the ID, but still served alcohol to the minor.
The restaurant previously served a 30-day liquor license suspension from the TABC for this offense, from Feb. 21 to March 22.
The restaurant was short-staffed, and Lee asked his wife to serve tables. Lee's wife is not normally a server, nor does she have a TABC server permit. Lee said that she knew to check IDs.
"My wife helped with serving that day and unfortunately served alcohol to the [underage] person," Lee said.
Ichiban Japanese Steak House, located at 5425 Highway 153, will serve a 30-day beer license suspension beginning April 27.
Rossville Billiards owner James Garner and his attorney appeared before the board for a violation of sale to a minor.
The violation occurred March 1 when CPD patrol officers and major crime detectives were investigating the death of a bar patron. When officers were collecting witness statements, they discovered one of the patrons to be underage and consuming alcohol, Collins said.
Because of the circumstances of the events that night at the bar, the server was not terminated, according to Garner's attorney.
The bar had no previous violations. Rossville Billiards, located at 4205 Rossville Blvd., will serve a three-day beer license suspension beginning April 27.
Raceway gas station owner Priyank Patel appeared before the board for a violation of sale to minor.
The violation came from an HCSO and Hamilton County Coalition compliance check.
"We sent an underage buyer into the Raceway to purchase a 24-ounce [beer] from the cooler," Ray said. "His ID was checked, but the clerk still sold the beer."
Patel said that he was in the store and saw the sale happen.
"I questioned [the clerk] as soon as [the buyer] walked out," he said. "She told me his license said he was born in 1988."
Patel took a written statement from his clerk, and she is still working there. The store had no previous violations.
The Raceway, located at 3459 Amnicola Highway, will serve a three-day beer license suspension beginning April 27.
United Gas & Food store manager Jignesh Shah appeared before the board for a violation of sale to a minor.
This violation came from an HCSO and Hamilton County Coalition compliance check.
Ray sent an underage buyer into the gas station to purchase a beer. He said the clerk checked the buyer's ID, but still sold the beer.
Shah said that this has not happened before and that the clerk received special license training following the incident. The clerk still works for Shah.
United Gas & Food, located at 2304 Shallowford Village Drive, will serve a five-day beer license suspension beginning April 27.
Other news from the beer board meeting
New eatery Henpecked Chicken applied for a beer license to serve beer at the soon-to-open restaurant at 405 Market St. The board approved the license.
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 the need for the board to conduct background checks on the owners.
Tiffany Cox and Christopher Dortch II of the Palace Picture House applied for a license to serve beer to moviegoers at the soon-to-open independent movie theater at 818 Georgia Ave. The license was tabled to the next meeting because of the need for the board to conduct background checks on the owners.
Clifford Postell and Willie R. Cox of W and Y Sports Bar applied for a license to serve beer at 2716 Dodson Ave. The license was passed to the next meeting because the building still needs to pass a fire inspection.
Ae Ri Yim of Sekisui Japanese Restaurant applied for a license to serve beer at 1120 Houston St. The license was passed to the next meeting because the restaurant has not passed a city building inspection.
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.