Monthly Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission meetings are typically unexceptional. Not a place to expect much drama or hullabaloo.
For industry insiders, the March ABC meeting featured a real cliffhanger. The City of Memphis asked the ABC to revoke the license of Gagliano’s Liquor, Inc., d/b/a The Bottle Shoppe. The ABC agenda framed the issue as follows:
On February 11, 2015, Mayor Wharton issued a letter revoking his approval of the City of Memphis’ Certificate of Compliance (dated July 31, 2014) for this location based on allegations of the site being too close to two churches and a residential community. The Commission is tasked with determining what recommendation to make to TABC staff regarding the action of the City of Memphis, including, but not limited to, having the issue set for TABC revocation before a state administrative law judge.
Two of our favorite Memphians, City Attorney Roane Waring and Memphis Alcohol Commission Executive Secretary Aubrey Howard, journeyed to Nashville to advocate for revocation of the liquor license of The Bottle Shoppe on behalf of Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton.
Commissioner John A. Jones quickly extinguished hopes for help from the ABC. Since the formation of the Tennessee ABC in the 1960s, there has always been a Jones on the Commission. We love the perspective that Commissioner Jones often brings to the discussion.
Commissioner Jones observed that in his 20 plus years as a Commissioner, the agency had never revoked a liquor license because a city changed its position on approval of a certificate of compliance. Jones noted that Memphis could deny renewal of the certificate of compliance when it came up for renewal.
Reminds us of Got My Mind Made Up by Bob Dylan and Tom Petty
Don’t ever try to change me,
I been in this thing too long.
There’s nothin’ you can say or do
To make me think I’m wrong.
We appreciate the Commission taking a firm position on this issue. City approval of a certificate of compliance should be final for purposes of city laws like distance requirements. The Commission should not be a forum for enforcement of local laws that a city has already signed off on.