June 21, 2021

Chattanooga Beer Board hears overcrowding case regarding local nightclub

The Chattanooga Beer & Wrecker Board appeared in agreement this week that Alan Golds nightclub was in violation of its rule against overcrowding — by at least 123 people — but it couldn’t agree on a punishment.

Five board members in attendance on Thursday voted to pass the case to the June 17 meeting, when one or more of the four members not in attendance could be there to vote.

“We aren’t getting anywhere with this,” said board member Chris Keene after at least two proposals died for lack of a second and several others failed for lack of the needed five votes.

Five members are enough for a quorum, but with that number, the vote has be unanimous. Proposals for punishment ranged from a three-day suspension of the longtime local club’s beer license to a 10-day suspension, which Keene argued was too much because it would put more than a dozen people out of work for that length of time.

The incident in question took place in February of 2020, but the board, which had been operating via virtual meetings during the pandemic, is only now hearing cases of alleged violations now that it is meeting in person. Such cases often include video, written evidence and/or testimonies.

Chattanooga Beer Enforcement Officer John Collins told the board that on the night in question, he and other officers entered the club and found it to be packed with people. The club had a listed capacity of 201, and management said a clicker showed that 194 people were in the club.

Collins ordered the place emptied, and an officer counted people as they exited. His clicker registered 324 people. Collins said officers then allowed people back into the club at an under-capacity number. He added that the club asked the fire marshal to re-calibrate the capacity number a week or so later, and the number was increased to 251.

The bar was represented at the meeting by its general manager, who told the board the club’s owner, Gary Milligan, had died several days prior.

Several board members stressed the importance of not allowing a club to be overcrowded, with Chairman Dan Mayfield stating, “We have three main concerns: underage drinking, overserving someone and overcrowding.”

It was also recommended that nightclubs such as Alan Golds, which regularly draws a large crowd, use two clickers — one counting people going in and the other counting people leaving.

“Somebody has to be in charge,” Keene said.

The case will be reheard at the June 17 Beer & Wrecker Board meeting.

Alans was cited in 2017 for failure to report an assault and had its license suspended for two weeks in that case.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga’s oldest bars)

Contract Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.