Permit revoked; Board caps Fireside Lounge beer taps - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Permit revoked; Board caps Fireside Lounge beer taps

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By Gordon Boyd
Eyewitness News Reporter

HIXSON, HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -- Chattanooga's Beer Board has revoked the permit for a Hixson Pike nightclub after two shooting incidents in the parking lot in less than a week.

Police have responded to the Fireside Lounge more than 160 times the past three years. But its owner claims the revocation is racially-motivated.

Scott Martens can see the Fireside Lounge from his children's bedroom window.

Too close, he says, given what he's seen. And heard.

"I have three children," he tells members of Chattanooga's Beer Board, "It (Fireside) is in plain sight. There is no obstacle to stop them, if there were bullets."

Bullets have flown, or fallen, in Fireside's parking lot twice in the past week, police say.

"What's more important, revenue and taxes or somebody's life," neighbor Paul Payne asks, "It's gonna happen. Somebody's gonna die at that club."

Owner James Teligades maintains that Fireside has become a victim of circumstances.

"What if somebody shoots in a Wal Mart parking lot or Walgreens," says Teligades.

What are you gonna do? Arrest the people at Wal Mart or Walgreens?

Teligades tells Beer Board members he has tripled his security force to six, since the shooting incidents.

But Board members, and police counter that officers have responded to more than 160 'calls for service' to 4021 Hixson Pike, the past three years.

The complaints include one sexual assault, one stabbing, ten physical assaults, and three narcotics violations.

There's probably enough weed smoke in there to get a contact high," Chattanooga Police Officer Daniel Anderson tells Board members about the 'shots fired' call of January 25.

"I mean, it was strong," says Anderson.

"A lot of customers smoke in their homes or in their car," Teligades counters, "So when they come in they already reek of marijuana without even lighting one up."

Club manager Charles Root concedes he has caught customers smoking marijuana, but gives them a second chance to ditch their joints.

"If I called police every time somebody did that, Chattanooga police would be at the bar on a regular basis," says Root.

Board members heard testimony for about forty minutes before voting, unanimously, to revoke Fireside Lounge's beer permit, immediately.

"They don't want African Americans in there," Teligades claims. "That's what it's all about. We have some, we have a mixed crowd."

Teligades concedes that Fireside's notoriety stretches further than the club's walls, and the surrounding neighborhood. Dozens of videos on YouTube feature contests, rap shout-outs, and occasional partial nudity.

"YouTube is everywhere. I really can't do anything about that," says Teligades, "I can appeal. but they're never gonna re-instate the license. "I'll be on unemployment and everybody can support me."

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