Beer Board Chairman "Disappointed" with Michael's Decision

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Knoxville (WVLT) - You'll soon be able to buy wine and mixed drinks again at Michael's restaurant, but the Knoxville Beer Board Chairman doesn't like it.

Now, he's speaking out against a state agency's decision to allow Michael's restaurant to resume serving liquor.

Tennessee's alcohol beverage commission reinstated Michael's liquor license during a 5-hour hearing Thursday in Nashville.

That decision means state-level commissioners view incidents of Michael's underage sales and over serving differently than the local beer board, which on Wednesday continued its decision to pull Michael's beer permit.

Even now, that liquor license reinstatement is not sitting well with the beer board's chairman.

The bars are restocked here at the Bearden nightclub, now that ABC commissioners reinstated Michael's liquor license.

"I was disappointed in their decision," Knoxville Beer Board Chairman Steve Hall says. "I'm sure they just didn't see the facts the way we saw them."

Steve Hall, and 8 other Knoxville city council members who make up the beer board, voted on Wednesday to continue the beer permit suspension of the nightclub.

That means Michael's cannot serve beer, but can now resume serving liquor.

Owner Rick Georgeson prefers not to go on camera, but said in a face-to-face interview Friday, "I feel relieved that a governing body listened to the facts objectively, without any prejudice. The commissioners of the ABC made a fair decision based on the facts, and we basically got something back that should never have been taken away from us summarily."

Published reports say KPD Chief Deputy Gus Paidousis testified at ABC's Nashville hearing, saying: "of the 600 to 700 establishments that sell alcohol, Michael's is the single most irresponsible, outlaw, renegade business in our city."

Georgeson says, "I differ with that opinion, as do a lot of our employees and customers. I don't think we could have been in business as long as we have with that type of reputation."

Hall now wants the state to hand over the power to rule on liquor licenses to local governments.

"I personally would like to see the same governing body oversee both types of alcohol, beer and liquor, and my preference would be for it to be handled locally," Hall says. "Because each locality has different standards they'd like to see people adhere to."

Michael's may re-open for regular business as soon as Saturday night.

But, the club owner says he first wants to meet with all employees to ensure workers make extra efforts to adhere to the regulations of the ABC and the beer board.