Restaurants with licenses can continue to sell liquor for now

Jan. 10, 2013 @ 06:59 PM

About a dozen restaurants here obtained licenses to sell liquor by the drink before Chancellor Telford Forgety tossed out the results of last November’s referendum on whether they could sell liquor by the drink, and at least as of Thursday, they were able to keep selling liquor.

Keith Bell, interim director for the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission, said that as of Thursday his office had issued 11 licenses to Pigeon Forge businesses. They won’t issue any new licenses, he said — not even to two businesses that had applications under consideration before Forgery ordered a new election. “Now that we’re aware the election has been voided ... we will not be issuing any more licenses,” he said.

“We currently have two applications for licenses in here at this time, I’d rather not say who they are, we will not be issuing those licenses since we’re aware Chancellor Forgety has voided the election.”

But Bell said he didn’t know what his office would do about the existing licenses as of Thursday, in part because he hadn’t had a chance to review the specifics of Forgety’s order overturning the election.

Fogety indicated the written order would be prepared as quickly as possible, but he did not address the issue during the proceedings or when he explained his decision.

Concerned Churches and Citizens of Pigeon Forge, the group that opposed the referendum and filed the contest of election, had the opportunity to request a restraining order but did not do so. The issue was not raised in any motions brought before Forgety.

If the written order includes any instructions on how to handle the licenses that were already approved, his office will follow those orders, he said. If not, he indicated he will call the state attorney general’s office for advice on how to proceed.

Bell said he didn’t believe his office had any choice but to proceed issuing licenses while the election was being contested. The Sevier County Election Commission had certified the election results, and without an injunction or any other order contravening the decision, his office proceeded based on the election results.

The most recent business to obtain a license was Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show, which was approved Wednesday, he said.

Other businesses that now have licenses include:

- No Way Jose’s Cantina

- Johnny Carino’s Italian

- Mellow Mushroom

- Tony Roma’s

- Bullfish

- Big Daddy’s Pizzeria

- Alamo Steakhouse

- Ruby Tuesday

- J.T. Hannah’s

- Blue Moose Burgers and Wings

jfarrell@themountainpress.com