Montgomery bar owner concerned about competitor's license

Published: Nov. 21, 2013 at 8:53 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 1, 2013 at 5:10 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Following public comments at Tuesday's Montgomery City Council meeting regarding a new Cloverdale bar getting a liquor license, WSFA 12 News talked with councilman Arch Lee and the bar owner about the concerns.

Doug Gurney, the owner of 1048 Jazz and Blues on Fairview Avenue raised concerns that Mike Watson, the owner of what will be Graham Woods Pub just two doors down, is getting his liquor license before his building is up to code.

Gurney believes if Watson gets his license right now, it will be a complete violation of state and city building, health and sanitation codes.

"There were some, possibly some legitimate concerns that were brought up, some maybe not as legitimate as others," says Councilman Arch Lee.

Lee tabled the issue until the next council meeting, giving him time to look into the allegations.

But, he says Watson's request for a liquor license this early isn't unreasonable.

"The city states 'don't do any work under the assumption that you're gonna be granted a license.' So, they're kinda in a catch 22 about doing some work in the business and not having it all up to code yet. But they're waiting to make sure they got a liquor license."

Lee says the city council has traditionally granted liquor licenses to bars relying on them to open.

"We hold on to that license or business license until all the other building codes and health codes and everything else are brought up to specifications," adds Lee.

"There's nothing that really keeps us from finishing the construction without a liquor license, you're just operating at your own risk," says Mike Watson.

Mike Watson fully expects to get a liquor license for Graham Woods Pub.

But he also understands officials are taking into consideration recent violations of underage drinking at some of his other businesses.

"There are things that have happened at Alley Bar, Aviator Bar, Sand Bar that don't go exactly as we anticipate, but it's certainly, not anything that would keep a business of similar ilk here in Cloverdale.

Within the last few months, a church has started meeting in the house right in between Graham Woods Pub and 1048 Jazz and Blues.

State law prohibits the sale of alcohol to be visible from a church, which means Watson must block any sight of alcohol from the adjacent property.

The issue will be on the next city council agenda, December 3rd.

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