Walmart, Food City, Aldi and others sold alcohol to a minor, failing a Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission compliance check. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, MGNOnline)

The Chattanooga Beer and Wrecker Board handed down punishments to Walmart, Food City, Aldi, Amigo Mexican Restaurant, Mexi-Wing and Spare Time Chattanooga for failing a compliance check.

On May 23, the Chattanooga Police Department assisted the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission with a series of compliance checks, according to CPD Officer John Collins. The TABC sent in an underage buyer to purchase alcohol at several area establishments.

Walmart, located at 4110 Shallowford Road, was issued a three-day beer license suspension or the option to pay a $1,500 fine.

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Collins said that the underage buyer was able to purchase a bottle of wine without their ID being checked.

Store manager Bryan Hoffman said the clerk was working at the self-checkout stand at the time of the sale.

“The buyer approached the clerk without showing ID, and the clerk entered his own birthdate,” Hoffman said.

The clerk was issued a criminal citation and no longer works for Walmart.

“You guys-Food City, Walmart, Publix-are the shining stars in Chattanooga,” board member Andre Harriman said. “You’ve got to set an example for everyone else.”

The three-day suspension will begin June 22 if the $1,500 fine is not paid.

The Food City located at 7804 East Brainerd Road received a three-day beer license suspension or the option to pay a $1,000 fine.

The underage buyer was able to purchase a bottle of wine after having their ID checked, according to Collins.

TABC Special Agent Travis Patton said the clerk had been entering the same birthdate for every alcohol transaction she processed after being hired in February. Food City’s records show that she processed over 250 alcohol transactions with the same birthdate.

Rick Bishop, executive vice president of store operations for the Chattanooga division, said they are now reviewing alcohol sales reports on a daily and weekly basis.

“We had a clerk that decided to forgo our policies and procedures, and we ended up selling alcohol to someone we shouldn’t have,” he said. “We are doubling down our efforts across our whole division and retraining everyone.”

The clerk was issued a criminal citation and no longer works for Food City.

Christopher Keene, chairman of the Chattanooga Beer and Wrecker Board, said the clerk should serve jail time for this. He said there’s no way to know how many times she sold to an underage person.

The three-day suspension will begin June 22 if the $1,000 fine is not paid.

The Aldi located at 5706 Lee Highway received a 14-day beer license suspension.

The underage buyer was able to purchase a bottle of wine without their ID being checked, according to Collins.

Collins said the clerk who sold the wine was the manager on duty.

No representative from Aldi was present at the beer board. The board felt that warranted a harsher punishment.

“I would like the board to issue a 30-day suspension for those who fail to appear,” board member Lee Dear said. “It is a disrespect to the board and the city not to show up.”

Other members thought 30 days was too severe, so the board passed a 14-day suspension on a 5-1 vote.

Aldi’s beer license will be suspended for 14 days, beginning June 22.

Amigo Mexican Restaurant at 5786 Brainerd Road received a 14-day beer license suspension.

The underage buyer was able to purchase a beer from the server after having their ID checked.

No representative from Amigo was present at the beer board meeting.

The restaurant’s beer license will be suspended for 14 days, beginning June 22.

Mexi-Wing at 5773 Brainerd Road received a three-day beer license suspension or the option to pay a $1,500 fine.

The underage buyer was able to purchase a beer from the server without their ID being checked, according to Collins.

Collins said that when he tried to issue a criminal citation, the server could not present valid identification. She was transported to the Hamilton County Jail for booking.

Patton said she took the TABC identification class but was denied a permit because of improper paperwork and documentation.

“When she applied, she showed us an ID and Social [Security card],” Mexi-Wing owner Octavio Perez said. “That’s what we have on file.”

The server no longer works for Amigo.

Mexi-Wing’s beer license will be suspended for three days, beginning June 22, if the $1,500 fine is not paid.

Spare Time Chattanooga, located at 5518 Brainerd Road, received a three-day beer license suspension or the option to pay a $1,000 fine.

The underage buyer was able to purchase a beer from the bar area of the bowling alley after the server checked their ID.

“The server checked the ID and still served the beer,” Spare Time general manager Ryan Dean said. “[He] said he mistook the eight [in 1998] as a six on the ID.”

The server no longer works for Spare Time.

The three-day suspension will begin June 22 if the $1,000 fine is not paid.

Other news from the beer board
At the June 1 meeting of the beer board, Ria’s Food Mart had its beer license revoked. The owner is now appealing that decision in the Hamilton County Chancery Court. Ria’s can still sell alcohol during the appeal period.

Ae Ri Yim, owner of Sekisui Japanese Restaurant, appeared before the board for the fifth time. Sekisui, located at 1120 Houston St., applied to serve consumer beer at the restaurant. The restaurant passed all of its inspections and the beer license was approved.

John Britto, owner of Star Mart at 4803 Brainerd Road, applied for a license to sell carryout beer. The license was approved.

Joe Vagos, owner of Bela Lisboa, applied for a license to sell consumer beer at his Portuguese and Mediterranean restaurant. The license was approved. Bela Lisboa is located at 417 Frazier Ave.; click here to read more about it.

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 the assistant news editor for the school newspaper, The University Echo. He also serves as the alumni relations chairman for his fraternity.

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