Carrollton city officials have suspended a Maple Street restaurant’s alcohol license after an incident last month involving city police.
During a virtual work session meeting on Thursday, city council members voted unanimously to suspend the Culture Eatery and Hookah Lounge’s alcohol license through Jan. 31. The restaurant is located at 1027 Maple St.
After the incident occurred, Culture Lounge staff posted on their Instagram apologizing to patrons if they were “illegally searched, harassed and intimidated” that night.
“This is a reminder to us all to stand up against overt injustice that attempts to do our businesses and ourselves harm,” the post said. “Be safe. Know your rights. Report police misconduct.”
A witness to the incident posted a video on her Twitter account on Sept. 27 and said Carrollton police arrived at the Culture Lounge to count the number of people at the restaurant’s event.
But Carrollton City Manager Tim Grizzard said Thursday that police officers also found “ladies with a bag of $1 bills” at the establishment that night, and he referred to a flyer advertising exotic dancing at the lounge. This was not allowed at the establishment.
“This is the most serious thing we’ve ever had as far as a liquor license in my 16 years here,” Grizzard said. “I would have to defer to Mr. (J. Nevin) Smith (the city’s attorney) about this, and they made some accusations about our police, and I always like to support our police officers. We always have their back, and they have a horrible job.”
Carrollton Mayor Betty Cason said during the virtual meeting the bodycam footage from police showed patrons drinking after 2 a.m. The city’s Code of Ordinances says that restaurant owners that serve alcohol can serve until 1:30 a.m. Those drinks must be consumed on the premises until 2 a.m. Monday through Sunday.
“The alcohol licenses are a privileged license and having those, the police have the authority to visit the establishment at any time without notice,” Cason said.
Smith said there were three violations listed in a written notice to restaurant staff including adult entertainment, which he said was not allowed at this establishment, alcohol was still present on site after 2 a.m. and restaurant staff allegedly barred the doors during the event.
Grizzard added the longest an alcohol license has been suspended during his tenure was two weeks, which he said was because of “minor infractions” for illegal parties or gatherings that exceeded the maximum occupancy of a building.
City officials were considering suspending the license for 90 days until Carrollton Ward 1 Councilman Jim Watters suggested the end of January.
In addition to the suspension, police officers will be occasionally monitoring the restaurant through the end of January, Carrollton Ward 2 Councilman Brett Ledbetter said on Thursday. He added that while he agreed with the license suspension, he does not want to put the restaurant out of business.