Photos copyright their respectful owners.
Aug. 20—CORRECTION: This story was updated at 7 p.m. on Aug. 20 to correct the spelling of the chairman’s name.
Just minutes after Chattanooga beer board Chair Bill Glascock commended owner Diamound Brown for trying to help her community and for being “a fighter” trying to do the right thing, the board unanimously voted to suspend the beer license of Chatty’s on Milne Street for 15 days for operating a disorderly place.
The suspension stems from an incident this summer when police were called to the restaurant and club three times about people with guns in the parking lots surrounding the club. While officers were there, a fight broke out between two women by the venue’s front door.
Beer Inspector John Collins said that still photographs taken by surveillance cameras showed one of the venue’s security guards walking around the Chatty’s parking lot and on the sidewalk in front of the business carrying an AR-15.
Collins told the board that while it is not illegal to carry such a weapon, there are laws governing which weapons a police officer or security guard can carry while on duty, and an AR-15 requires special permission from the state.
Silent Force Security owner Kenneth Clack told the board that the guard said he carried the weapon while escorting that night’s musical performer to the building.
He said it was a one-time incident as far as he knew and that the guard should not have had it and that the staff will be “going back to class.”
Brown, the owner, said she was unaware of the incident or the photo until this week, when Collins told her about the guard and the weapon.
Board member Chris Keene said on at least two occasions during the meeting that the image on the screen was especially troubling to him as something happening “right here in Chattanooga, Tennessee.”
Officers did not enter Chatty’s, and attorney Marty Lasley argued that police had no proof that any of the people causing problems were patrons of the venue.
Collins pointed out on several occasions that, per city beer board guidelines, the venue owner is responsible for what happens in his or her own parking areas — and any parking lots used by customers.
Brown, who opened Chatty’s as a restaurant in 2018 and added beer sales earlier this year, started selling liquor and added live music about a week before the Aug. 1 incident as way to pay her bills, she said. She also applied for and got a permit to sell alcohol past 11 p.m. in a residential area.
She told the board she made more money after midnight than she did during the day and that the trouble in the parking lot started after the board suspended the license of J.T. McDaniel at Night Owl next door and the city revoked the late-night sales permit of SkyZoo on East Brainerd Road.
Board member Cynthia Coleman said Chatty’s became the go-to place as people looked for a place to go after hours.
“It’s like ants,” she said. “You remove one mound and they go somewhere else.”
Glascock told Brown he hoped she would find a way to make it work.
Officer Chris Bruce of the Special Crimes Division told the board that Brown was hostile and uncooperative during part of the evening, and Brown apologized to the board for her actions, which were caught on police video.
She also said that she is constantly learning about her role as an owner of a place that sells alcohol and that she is trying to do what is right for the community. She said the fight occurred between a woman she had been sheltering inside the restaurant and some women from the neighborhood who had come looking for her after the young woman went outside.
Security guards broke up the fight, but activity escalated to the point that Chattanooga police were called in to help disperse and control the crowd.
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.
Category: Restaurant News