On Monday afternoon, the East Ridge Beer Board met to consider sanctions against a local restaurant. More importantly, perhaps, one board member introduced the idea of allowing beer to be sold in Camp Jordan during special events.
The beer board heard from Tony Giannourakis, the new owner of Portofino’s. Several issues had arisen recently regarding the popular restaurant at Ringgold and Mack Smith Roads. A server sold beer or wine to a minor in June as the restaurant was transitioning to new ownership. With the restaurant under scrutiny, it was discovered that the license to sell beer granted by the city was in the name of the former owner. The application for the license was in the name of both the new and former owners, officials said.
Giannourakis told board members that he had already appeared before a judge who had reduced his fine for selling to an underage person from $1,500 to $1,000. The server who committed the violation had attended an educational meeting in regard to the incident. Giannourakis told the board that the incident occurred on a Friday night after a “big rush.”
“We’ve been on them,” he said in regard to emphasizing to the staff how important it is to check IDs. “We’re paying much closer attention.”
Beer Board member Charlie Snyder noted that a first violation is customarily met with a three-day suspension of beer sales.
Board member Earl Wilson said that he believed that Portofino’s had learned a lesson and paid a fine and suggested that everyone should “move forward.” Wilson made a motion not to suspend Portofino’s beer sales for three days and the board agreed by a 4-0 vote.
Under “New Business,” board member Gregg Shipley said that he had met recently with members of Friends of the Festival, the organization that puts on Riverbend and other events in downtown Chattanooga. During the meeting Shipley said that Friends of the Festival may be interested in having a number of events in Camp Jordan Park early next year if the city would allow beer to be sold at the events.
Shipley said that he had recently attended an event inside Camp Jordan Arena. The organizers of the event said that they hold three or four gatherings a year in the southeast and that East Ridge was the only city where beer was not sold at their festivities.
Shipley said that in order for the beer board to grant a special permit to sell beer in Camp Jordan, a City ordinance would have to be amended. He and others noted that the city currently bans the sale of alcohol and consumption on city property.
Board member Snyder asked Shipley if he had any figures relating to economic impact of special permit beer sales in Camp Jordan? Shipley said he did not.
“How much money do you think the Friends of the Festival would bring in with beer,” Snyder asked. “If (the city) is not going to make money what good would it do to introduce beer sales?”
Shipley said that he had spoken with representatives of Fun Time, the business that contracts with the city to provide concessions in the park. It was noted that Fun Time’s contract with East Ridge requires the business to pay the city a portion of what it makes in sales. It was stated during the meeting that Fun Time pays the city 34 percent. It is unclear if that figure is on gross or net sales.
“I’m just trying to open this up for discussion,” Shipley said.
Board member Wilson said that if beer sales in Camp Jordan was promoted to the public there would potentially be a much larger turnout at various events.
The next East Ridge Beer Board meeting is scheduled for September 11 at 5 p.m. at City Hall in the Council chambers.