FLOWERY BRANCH -- The Flowery Branch City Council has voted to suspend the alcoholic beverage license of Green's Tavern on Hog Mountain Road for six weeks after a hearing Thursday night on an incident that happened in October of last year.
The nearly three hour hearing came after City Clerk Melissa McCain made a recommendation to the council to revoke Green's Tavern's license completely. McCain said she recommended revocation after further reviewing the evidence in the case of two men who were found to be drunk after they struck a pregnant woman head-on on Hog Mountain Road shortly after leaving the restaurant on the night of October 10.
In the aftermath of the crash, police found that none of the workers serving alcohol in the restaurant that night had the appropriate pour permits or ServSafe licenses that are required by the city of Flowery Branch to serve alcohol. In addition, McCain said she believed, after reviewing security footage from Green's Tavern that night, that the restaurant was guilty of serving alcohol to someone who was "noticeably intoxicated," which would be a violation of Georgia code.
Councilman Joe Anglin made the initial suggestion of a six week suspension of the license. He said, although the violations were serious, he felt the tavern could be better for it going forward.
"I definitely believe this process has tough these owners a lesson," Anglin said.
City Attorney Ron Bennett said Green's Tavern will be sent a notification of the suspension from McCain. After they receive the notification, they will have 30 days to appeal the decision to the Hall County Superior Court. If no appeal is made after those 30 days, the suspension will go into effect, meaning the tavern will be unable to sell alcohol.
The security video from the restaurant showed one of the two men walking into the bar before sitting down next to the second man and ordering drinks from bartender Chasstity McCraken. McCraken said she didn't notice anything in the men's behaviors that indicated that they were drunk.
"That night, there was no server watching the front area, so I was kind of floating," McCraken said. "I did not see him walk in, I was sitting in the back and when I approached him at the bar, in conversation with him, I didn't assume that he was intoxicated."
McCraken was also one of the workers who was found to not have the proper pour permit, as she had a permit from nearby Gwinnett County, but not Flowery Branch. She is no longer working at Green's Tavern. Councilman Fred Richards said he had a hard time believing the men showed no signs of being drunk before they were sold drinks.
"I put myself through college tending bars," Richards said. "I find it hard to believe that you couldn't notice the slurred speech."
Footage of the men after the crash from the body camera of Flowery Branch Police Officer Dalton Hall showed the man speaking with heavily slurred speech, and reportedly occurred just minutes after the men left the tavern.
The crash itself happened as the men turned too wide while trying to turn onto Wade Orr Road, causing them to strike the other vehicle head on. Police arrived quickly after the restaurant's manager Brian Ecker had called earlier due to the men becoming frustrated and not leaving.
Two members of the city council, Mary Jones and Monica Beatty, were not in attendance due to illness. The council still had the three necessary votes to reach a decision on the case, with councilmen Joe Anglin, Fred Richards and Christopher Mundy.