Decision on Grill & Pub's fate delayed

-A A +A
By Damon Lawrence

The Grill & Pub will be given more time to prepare for a hearing before the Roane County Beer Board.

County Attorney Tom McFarland said a continuance will be granted when the board meets today, Aug. 15.

“They’ll have to meet and just recess to a new date,” McFarland said. “There will be no hearing Monday night.”

The purpose of the meeting had been to consider the county’s petition to revoke the Grill & Pub’s beer permit.

Knoxville attorney Greg Isaacs, who represents Grill & Pub owner Grover Norton, vowed to seek court intervention and maximum damages if the board revoked the permit today.    

“We just want an opportunity for a full and fair hearing,” Isaacs said. “If they don’t give us the time to do that, we feel like we’re being denied due process and a chance for a fair hearing.”

The county’s petition says there have been “voluminous 911 calls regarding violence, drug activity, and/or other criminal acts” at the Grill & Pub.

The petition was filed on Aug. 3. Isaacs said he needs more time to investigate the county’s claims.

“A lot of the allegations involve individuals that were not in the bar,” he said. “It’s unheard of that they would expect Mr. Norton’s counsel to investigate all of these matters in 10 to 15 days.”

“Think about this,” Isaacs added. “I’ve got to investigate numerous assaults, which we dispute, a homicide, a kidnapping, and we’re supposed to do that in 10 to 15 days?”

McFarland said the county believes due process was given, but Beer Board Chairman Copper Bacon decided a continuance was appropriate.

“If we’re not entitled to a full and fair hearing, we’re going to ask for significant monetary damages,” Isaacs vowed.

McFarland said Isaacs’ threats did not factor into the decision to continue the matter.

“Not at all,” he said. “I just think the chairman wants to be sure that he’s fair to both sides.”

Norton keeps his beer permit during the continuance.  

“They will continue to have a beer permit until the beer board says otherwise,” McFarland said.

Isaacs said he’s also concerned that members of the beer board violated the open meetings law by deliberating the issue outside a public meeting.  

“We’ve had that issue here in Knox County, and courts have routinely said you cannot do it,” he said. “We’ve asked Tom McFarland to inquire whether there have been any discussions among the members about this issue. I believe he’ll do the right thing.”

McFarland said he looked into Isaacs’ claims and found no violations of law.

“It is my conclusion that no county commissioner/beer board member has violated the statute in any form or fashion,” McFarland wrote to Isaacs on Friday.

“My findings are that our Roane County Commissioners, who serve on the Roane County Beer Board, have acted responsibly and professionally in all matters concerning your client since the petition was filed.”

Today’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Roane County Courthouse in Kingston.

“The only reason they’re going to meet is because we have ran the required notices and things of that nature,” McFarland said. “In case anyone doesn’t get the news, they’ll be able to find out when the new meeting date will be Monday night.”