Metro Nashville Beer Board: Back to the Future

By - October 26, 2011 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

We hear it all the time. When you ask a state or city official why something is done a particular way, you often hear: “Because it’s always been done that way.”

Eons ago, someone devised a form beer application that is used by lots of beer boards, including, until recently, the Metro Nashville Beer Board. We have found that the form is a model for creating confusion for business owners.

Abandoning more than two decades of tradition, the Metro Beer Board recently approved a new simplified form for beer applications. It is available as a writable PDF.

Mayor Karl Dean has filled a number of beer board appointments with members of the local business community. Dean appointee Brian Taylor comments: “Nashville is a business friendly city and although there are laws that are antiquated and that the Beer Board cannot itself change, the Metro Beer Board is making strides toward simplifying the process for those restaurants and bars looking to open in Nashville. The new application is a big step forward.”

We applaud the board for making the beer application process more friendly to business owners.

Modernizing Liquor Laws Often Elusive

By - October 25, 2011 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

The recent failure of an attempt to increase the number of liquor stores in Clarksville – from a limit set in 1963 – shows that the unholy alliance of liquor and religion is alive and well. Clarksville liquor store owners and local pastors opposed the increase, and it failed in the city council.

Clarksville Council Rep Deanna McLaughlin proposed the increase after two soldiers, looking to open a store, were told that no licenses were available. The 12 store rule was set back in 1963, when Clarksville had under 35,000 residents. Now the city has grown to over 130,000, but the number of liquor stores has remained the same because of the local store limit.

Clarksville liquor store owners understandably opposed the increase, because the antiquated limit increased the value of their stores. Pastors cited public safety concerns over increased access to alcohol.

Although local officials initially voiced no public safety concerns, the proposed increase died by a 9-3 vote at an October council meeting.

The defeat is a reminder that change is not easy with liquor laws.                             

Nashville Beer Board Targets Rogue Caterers

By - October 18, 2011 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

Its been pretty easy over the past couple of years to find someone to provide beer service for Nashville businesses that cannot get a beer permit, for whatever reason. Some folks with beer catering permits have regularly allowed other businesses to use their catering permit when the business failed to apply for a beer permit on time or had some other issue that left the bar high and dry. This “service” was usually offered for a hefty fee.

A few folks really abused the catering permit by “catering” beer to nightclubs that did not qualify for beer.

On October 13, 2011, the Beer Board adopted a rule aimed at eliminating the practice. We hear that the beer inspectors have been out enforcing the new rule.

The beer catering law was intended to be a compliment to the ABC catering permit for wine and spirits. Before Metro adopted the law, caterers were left to play fast and loose with the law and provide beer service, despite the lack of any means to legally sell beer at catered events. Most towns have not even addressed the issue and have not specifically legalized beer catering.

We applaud the Metro Beer Board for tackling this issue. The catering law was intended to allow restaurants to provide adult beverages with food when catering. It was never intended as a way around regular licensing.

Tennessee Guns in Bars Advocate Makes Big Oops

By - October 12, 2011 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

Guns in bars advocate Tennessee State Representative Curry Todd was arrested late last night (October 11, 2011) in Nashville for DUI and possession of a gun while intoxicated. The Tennessean has details about the arrest, and Tom Humphrey has insightful political commentary.

Representative Todd has been an effective advocate for a number of conservative causes and is known for being a Republican leader. The arrest will certainly challenge Representative Todd’s credibility as a conservative crusader for mixing gun rights with alcohol.

Although national media have picked up the story, we do not see Rep. Curry’s personal issue affecting current Tennessee gun laws.