The Brunswick City Commission discussed liquor license violations with the owners of five businesses in the city during its meeting Monday.
The businesses with violations were Marshside Grill, located at 1200 Glynn Ave.; L St. Liquor, 1800 L St.; Luck 7, 3201 Altama Ave.; Longhorn Steakhouse, 1000 Glynn Isles Parkway; and Olive Garden, 600 Glynn Isles Parkway.
Mayor Cosby Johnson opted to call Rakesh Patel, owner of L St. Liquor, to the podium first. Patel did not have an active violation, Johnson said, but had been cited for and continues to receive complaints from residents about people “loitering in the parking lot.” Johnson asked the owner if he had done anything to mitigate the issue.
Patel said he’s worked hard to keep people from loitering but whenever he runs them off or calls police, they always come back. He puts up signs that get torn down after hours.
“Cite them, don’t cite me. Then they’ll learn a lesson,” Patel said.
It’s on the business owner to manage their customers, said Mayor Pro Tem Felicia Harris.
Commissioner Johnny Cason suggested the loiterers might stop if they were aware the business could lose its license over this.
“It’s them putting your license in jeopardy, not us,” Cason said.
Harris said securing his premises is part of the cost of business.
“To me, it should be a partial responsibility of his to have security on the outside of that store,” Harris said.
“Fifty, 60 people? You want me to secure that?” Patel asked. “... You need to be there physically to see what’s going on.”
He said many of them simply are standing around and aren’t doing anything wrong that would justify kicking them off the property.
“Stop people period from hanging out,” Harris said.
Commissioner Kendra Rolle asked if he’d tried to hire security.
“Knowing that neighborhood, that’s a bad move,” Patel responded. “It would be a bad situation. I’m not against it, but that area, whether it’s my store or somebody else’s store, that’s not a good thing.”
Rolle said she’s seen stores in large cities with more concentrated crime maintain security, but Patel said he would not do so at his establishment unless the city required it.
In response, Johnson asked City Attorney Brian Corry about how the commission could impose such a restriction on L St. Liquor.
Corry said there is some paperwork involved, but that it could be done without causing a lapse in his licensure requiring him to close.
Commissioners deferred the license renewal.
George Warwick, manager at Marshside Grill, was the next one questioned.
“We know this is not you all’s first infraction and you’ve had some conversations about how to mitigate this,” Johnson said.
Warwick said all employees will now have to take the TIPS Alcohol Certification Training course on serving alcohol and will be terminated for selling to an underage person.
Commissioners voted unanimously to renew the license.
The next petitioner, Ankur Patel, owner of Luck 7, had been cited for selling to someone underage.
Patel said employees are now required to check the IDs of every customer for both alcohol and tobacco sales and that he has ordered around $1,500 in scanners to verify IDs. He said signs had been posted around the store indicating the age limit.
Commissioners renewed the license conditioned on his purchase of the scanners and employee training.
Matthew Leipau, Longhorn Steakhouse manager, stepped to the podium next. He said an employee had been let go for selling to someone who was underage and the restaurant is retraining all servers, bartenders and managers. He said the establishment also has stepped up training for all positions.
Longhorn’s license was renewed.
Michelle Phillips, manager at Olive Garden, committed a similar infraction. She said similar steps had been taken at the restaurant.
Commissioners renewed the license.
Both Longhorn Steakhouse and Olive Garden had not expended any additional funding for new equipment. Because they hadn’t, the commission chose not to waive a fine as it had done for the other three.
The commission also voted to renew the alcohol licenses of 21 businesses that were in good standing.
In other business, the commission voted to give $50 gift cards to all full-time employees and elected officials and $25 gift cards to part-time and seasonal employees.
In total, the gift cards will cost $11,136, said Assistant City Manager Jeremiah Bergquist. The city employs 191 full time and 30 part time, he said.
Johnson appointed Kelly Hnatt to be vice chairwoman of the Brunswick Urban Redevelopment Authority.