The Oak Ridge Beer Permit Board approved a suspension of up to two weeks for a Grove Center bar that was the scene of an April 14 fight involving two men, including one who police said was very intoxicated.
But the beer permit suspension, scheduled to start Sept. 1, could be shortened to one week if Back 2 Brewski’s meets a few requirements, including proving that employees who need training on responsibly serving alcohol complete a course by Aug. 30.
During Monday’s “show cause” hearing, Back 2 Brewski’s owner Nang Crossno said the bar has a no-tolerance policy for behavior that might endanger the business and its patrons. Brewski’s employs bouncers, checks identifications, and cuts off customers when necessary, Crossno said.
“For the most part, I think that we’ve handled things the way that the police would want us to,” he said. “We try to keep the business as safe as possible.”
In fact, the bar may be losing business because of the zero-tolerance policy, Crossno said.
But city officials expressed concern over whether the bar was monitoring its customers closely enough, saying there were two people inside and outside of the bar who should have been “cut off” before police responded on April 14.
“We don’t see you cutting them off when you should,” Oak Ridge Police Department Deputy Police Chief Alan Massengill said. He said there have been about four disturbances or fight calls at Brewski’s in the past year, including a motorcyclist that rode into the bar.
Beer Board member Theresa Scott questioned Crossno about a handful of reported incidents, although Crossno challenged the accounts in a few cases.
“There are rules need to be followed,” Scott said. “I don’t see where you’ve shown proof that you’re responsible.”
Still, a few board members said they support small businesses, and they expressed concern about imposing a hefty fine on Brewski’s, something they could have done in lieu of a suspension.
“I hate to penalize a business, particularly a small business, but there comes a time where we can no longer overlook it,” Beer Board Chair Randy Tedford said. “I cannot see how we cannot do something.”
Also Monday, the Beer Board requested a show cause hearing in August for Applebee’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill. On June 13, the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission notified the city that Applebee’s had violated state law by selling beer to a minor. According to the TABC, this was the second violation for selling beer to a minor within one year, the Beer Board agenda said.
The agenda said Applebee’s agreed to a five-day suspension of its liquor-by-the-drink permit (from June 23-27) and a $500 civil penalty.
Note: This story was updated at 2:10 a.m. July 16.