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Alcohol violation hearings resume with fall semester
1case alleges '50% Rule' violation; 7 more for underage sales
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After a respite of several months, Statesboro City Council will return to alcoholic beverage sales enforcement actions today with hearings for eight alleged violations at six different locations.

The hearings are part of the 9 a.m. regular council meeting. Seven of the hearing notices are for allegedly furnishing alcohol to customers under 21 years old.

But the city also served notice to Farid Gharachorloo and Sepideh Mesri, license holders of a "sports restaurant" at 125 Gata Drive, for allegedly having alcoholic beverage sales exceeding 50 percent of the club's total revenue in the first two quarters of 2015. The club, identified as Club 125 in the documents, is now doing business as Moonshiners.

The numbers showing 75 percent alcoholic beverage sales the first quarter, and a 70-30 ratio of alcohol to food and non-alcoholic beverage sales the second quarter, were from Gharachorloo's original April 20 and July 20 reports to the city.

However, the documents being presented to council also include a Sept. 18 letter from a certified public accountant, John L. Fulcher, stating that Club 125 realized that the reports were filled out incorrectly after submitting them. Gharachorloo has now submitted amended returns showing alcoholic beverage sales of 45 percent for the first quarter and 41 percent for the second quarter.

Statesboro's Alcoholic Beverages Ordinance makes no provision for bars, authorizing on-premises drinking only at restaurants and "sports restaurants," which are not required to have kitchens and minimum seating like regular restaurants.

Restaurants and sports restaurants are all required to make at least 50 percent of their money from "nonalcohol sales." But the version of the ordinance available through the city website also says that cover charges or minimum charges "shall not be counted" in totals for restaurants but "shall be counted as nonalcoholic sales" for sports restaurants.

Underage cases

Gharachorloo's name also appears as licensee for hearings on two alleged violations at a different business, GATA's 2, at 67 Gata Drive. These are a first-offense underage serving case from a Sept. 10 citation and a second-offense within 12 months case from a Sept. 19 case.

None of these cases are criminal matters when City Council hears them, but administrative actions against the businesses' alcoholic beverage licenses. However, in the underage sales cases, the Statesboro Police Department has also issued a citation charging someone with a misdemeanor. Usually it's an employee of the restaurant or store, and those cases are heard in Municipal Court.

Jason Franklin, as licensee for Shenanigans, at 1 University Plaza, was issued a notice of hearings of an alleged second offense within 12 months for a citation issued Sept. 10 and an alleged third offense Sept. 19.

J.E. McCormack and Jay Hilderbrand, as licensees of Gate Station No. 226, at 240 South Main St., are slated for a second-offense hearing from a Sept. 10 violation. Heath Robinson, owner of Big Show Burgers, at 200 Lanier Drive, Suite 1, is slated for a hearing on a first-offense allegation from Sept. 19, and Matthew Skinner, of Applebees, for a first-offense allegation from Sept. 10.

Also on today's agenda, a public hearing and first reading is to be held on the proposed Temporary Vendors Ordinance, and council will hear an update on the storm water management and fee program.

Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.


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