Finish Line Cafe is poised for the same chance Limelite Cafe got -- six months to get food sales up, with alcohol on Sundays in the meantime.
The Augusta Commission's Public Services committee voted unanimously Wednesday to let the Wrightsboro Road cafe have a probationary Sunday alcohol license, which means the request goes to the full commission Feb. 3 as part of the consent agenda.
If affirmed, the treatment will signify a change in how the city handles businesses whose food revenues drop below 50 percent -- the minimum under state law to be considered a restaurant and be permitted to serve alcohol seven days a week.
When an audit in May found that only 35 percent of Finish Line's revenues came from food, owner Robert Prescott III surrendered his license.
"The way I understood it, I didn't have any other alternative," he told commissioners.
As a bar, he lost family business because he can't let anyone under 21 in, and his NASCAR motif became hollow because most races are on Sundays. Mr. Prescott estimated he has lost $30,000 in sales. Then he found out about Limelite.
On Jan. 12, the Public Services committee split 2-2 when the cafe on Agerton Lane asked commissioners to overrule Licence and Inspection Director Rob Sherman and allow it to serve on Sundays while it worked to increase food revenues, which were only 23 percent. Before the issue got to the full commission, Limelite attorney Ben Allen persuaded seven commissioners to sign a letter authorizing a probationary license, bucking the state's open meetings law.
Commissioner Jerry Brigham told Mr. Prescott not to sell on Sundays until he's issued a license and said that because the committee is only a recommending body he has to wait until the full commission votes on it.
Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
IN OTHER ACTION
Also on Wednesday, the Public Services Committee:
- Voted 3-1 (Mr. Brigham, Joe Jackson and Corey Johnson for, Calvin Holland against) to recommend denial of a beer and wine license to Super C Restaurant on Tobacco Road. Charles "Super C" Cummings lost his business and alcohol license after 18-year-old Stedmund Fryer was shot to death on the dance floor there in July 2007. Mr. Cummings has to wait 10 years before applying for another alcohol license, but the application is in the name of his wife, Teresa.
- Split 2-2 (Mr. Brigham and Mr. Jackson for, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Holland against) on a set of ordinances allowing the commission to regulate teen social clubs similar to the way they regulate alcohol-selling businesses. Teen club proprietors don't have to go before the board before opening.