Town OKs beer carryout at Sambo's

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

CHAPEL HILL - The businesswoman who in large part was responsible for the town board addressing and approving beer sales at restaurants here was granted on Friday a permit to sell packaged beer.

Tina Wesson, proprietor of Sambo's Barbecue on Horton Highway, surrendered her packaged beer sales permit to get a license to sell beer by the drink. That was last year when Sambo's became the second restaurant in town eligible to serve beer.

Technical aspects of the town's new law required separation between beer service and the sale of six packs and Sambo's didn't qualify, according to a decision by the board last year. As a result, Wesson had to surrender her packaged beer sales permit to get a license to serve beer.

Last week, on a 2-1 vote, the panel granted Wesson a permit after debating the number of doors at her building. Voting yes were Board Chairman Henry Frame and Board member Tommy Lawrence. Voting no was Pam Elliott.

Approval came two weeks after Police Chief Jackie King conducted an undercover check of all beer sales locations in town. A 19-year-old man was sent to each business, asking to buy beer, King said. At each, he was denied.

With little, if any, direct references to separation of table service for beer and six-pack sales at the counter, the Beer Board has again allowed Wesson to sell beer, as the law puts it, for consumption off premises.

When she applied for her new permit to sell beer for off premises consumption, Wesson provided sales receipts to show that she's been selling more food than beer, Town Administrator Mike Hatton reported to the board.

"You can't have more beer sales than food," Hatten said. "You can't have a pool table... [That's] to keep the honkytonks out."

Henry Horton State Park had recently been granted a beer permit by Marshall County's Beer Board, Hatten noted.

"Everybody knows the state is in a bind, financially," Hatten continued.

After extensive discussion from Hatten and members of the Beer Board about requirements on separating carry out beer sales and table service, Mayor Carl Cooper expressed his opinion.

"I'm not in favor of enforcing something on a business and causing them a financial hardship," Cooper said.

Wesson had said she'd have to sell 500 six-packs to have the money to pay for a door. Elliott said she felt the town ordinance would have to be amended before a permit could be issued, but she was out voted. Hatten said there are many town ordinances that are not enforced and they are frequently violated.

If Beer Board members wanted the beer ordinance altered, the town Board of Mayor and Aldermen could be provided with many other ordinances that should be amended, Hatten said.

The town wants yard brush left at the side of the road for removal, but an elderly woman left hers in the middle of her yard, Hatten said. "Sometimes you just do what you think is right."

"Sometimes we swat at gnats or split hairs," the town administrator said.

"Our revenues aren't bad," he said in a reference to beer sales taxes paid to a town, "but we probably should help a business."

After the 2-1 vote, Elliott explained her decision, saying, "I'm not against it. I just felt the ordinance needed to be changed."

During the board meeting, a Laws Hill man delivered an application for a beer license to permit his sister to sell beer for consumption on premises.

The Beer Board is now scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. Friday in the Police and Fire Building on North Horton Parkway to consider an application to sell beer for on premises consumption at Red's Family Restaurant Bar and Grill, according to a legal notice published today.

The applicant is Tawyna G. Eady of 4640 Nashville Highway.

Her planned restaurant is near the Sonic restaurant, Domino's pizza, and what town residents say was the location of an Italian restaurant, the police chief said.