Chattanooga business owners pushing for amendment to nightclub ordinance
By Megan Boatwright Channel 3 Eyewitness News Reporter
CHATTANOOGA, (WRCB) -- Chattanooga City Council takes a big step in deciding what time is "last call" for many businesses, on Tuesday.
If the city defines the business as a "nightclub" last call is 11 p.m. While other bars get to keep selling.
Some business that fall inside the 2009 definition of "nightclub" think the definition is too broad. The whole idea is to keep "nightclubs" from being too rowdy close to neighborhoods.
Channel 3 talked to one new business owner who $150,000 into a new sports bar. It was zoned as a nightclub which means he has to stop selling beer at 11 p.m. even if the big game is still on.
"We have to have all the beer and liquor off the tables by 11 p.m." says Joel Seiner, Fanatics2 owner.
It's a hustle and bustle day for business partners Joel Seiner and Rob Pack the day before grand opening.
"Rob and I have been in here everyday 10, 12 even 14 hours a day," Seiner says.
Fanatics2 has everything you'd expect to see in a sports bar. Big screen T.V.'s, pool tables, dart boards but the city calls the business a nightclub, not a sports bar.
"We fall into the nightclub category based on size and the fact that we have entertainment in the form of karaoke and a jukebox," Seiner says.
According to city code a nightclub serves alcohol from 11 p.m. - 3 a.m., seats over 100 people and provides some form of entertainment. All those things Fanatics2 has and yet, "Look around inside our business there's nothing that says nightclub."
Fanatics2 opens Wednesday at 11 a.m. but they'll close much sooner than they'd like. Without being able to sell alcohol after 11 p.m., the business says it can't afford to stay open.
"We're going into $150,000 into this place," says Pack. "We need to be able to recover that in a timely manner and go on to make a profit."
Which is why the businessmen are hoping city council votes in favor of an amendment to change the nightclub ordinance Tuesday.
"It really needs to be changed," says city councilman, Manny Rico. "At one time we had Buffalo Wild Wings defined as a nightclub."
Rico says he favors the amendment which gives specific exception to sports bars and restaurants. It also puts more power in the hands of the council.
"We make the discretion of what is a nightclub and what's not where before it was kinda a gray area," says Rico.
Tuesday night is the first reading of the amendment. If it passes by majority vote, there will be a second reading in a week. If it passes a second time the amendment will go into effect two week later.