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Flowery Branch to lift suspension of Growlers on Main license early
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Flowery Branch’s Spring Street culvert should be repaired over the next few months.

The culvert was originally compromised during a May 2013 flood; city officials had planned to replace it with a wooden bridge but bids for that project all came in significantly over budget.

A heavy rain in September further degraded the road, creating more of an emergency situation.

In an emergency bidding process, the design was switched to a concrete box culvert.

Council members approved a bid of $501,201.10 to go to Simpson Trucking. The low bidder, Lewis Contracting, removed its bid due to a clerical error.

The project is expected to be complete in April or May.

Carly Sharec

Flowery Branch’s Growlers on Main will reopen a week after being shuttered by the city for violations of its alcoholic beverage license.

The city had originally suspended the business’ license beginning Monday through the end of the year, for violations including selling alcohol by the glass and pouring more than the allowable sample sizes.

“Consumption on the premises is not allowed,” said City Attorney Ron Bennett during Thursday’s public hearing. “And our code says that under a package sale license, no licensee, agent or employee of a licensee shall sell, offer to sell, possess or permit the consumption on the licensed premises of any kind of alcoholic beverages.”

Growlers on Main is permitted to dispense up to three 1-ounce samples of beers on tap, as well as sell sealed glass jars, called growlers, for customers to take off the premises for consumption.

Bennett said there was confusion surrounding a March event during which the business violated the code by supplying alcohol in glasses rather than growlers; city officials met with owner Alan Davenport in April to clear up any confusion.

“At that meeting, we clearly indicated to him what he could and could not do under his license,” Bennett said. “One of the things that we clearly told him was that there can be no consumption on the premises.

“Even today, there’s still an advertisement ... in the window of the licensed location that indicates that you can rent a tasting room and buy beer for $5 a glass,” Bennett added. “Again, which cannot happen under the license that the Davenports have.”

Davenport maintained there is a lack of clarity in the code as to what he can or cannot do, particularly for special events, for which he can apply for a one-day-only special license to allow for more sampling.

“During our meeting talking about this new license, the city attorney said ‘Look, as long as you have this special events, you can do a tasting ... there’s no restriction on the amount or how it’s done,’” Davenport said. “Is that correct?”

“What the tasting permit allows is for a licensed holder who has a package store to offer samples, never to sell by the glass,” Bennett said.

“There’s obviously a lot of confusion, at least on our part, with the city when it comes to these things,” Davenport said.

Later during the hearing, Councilman Damon Gibbs said he didn’t find the code confusing.

“I’ve been a fan of the growler concept since we originally talked about it,” Gibbs said. “And I think it is good for the city. I want to be business-friendly in the city. Our downtown merchants are very important to us.

“However, I’m not so confused about what I read in the applications for what we’re talking about here. ... This application for special events specifically says, ‘Per drink sales at special events are only authorized for locations which are currently licensed to sell alcohol by the drink inside the city limits of Flowery Branch.’ That’s not confusing to me.”

Another of the complaints that led to suspending the business’ license centered around a post and pictures on the business’ Facebook page depicting a man “running the gantlet,” or drinking through all 26 taps at the business for his 28th birthday. Accompanying pictures showed the man apparently intoxicated outside the business.

In a separate Facebook discussion dated Oct. 25, it was explained the “gantlet” is an 8-ounce pour of “every beer on tap.”

Those posts have since been removed, with Davenport saying it was not the portrayal he wanted of his business or of downtown Flowery Branch. He said the manager at the time posted it; she has since been demoted to a part-time position, he told council members.

Multiple Flowery Branch business owners spoke in support of Davenport and of the Growlers on Main business, which seemed to sway council members in alleviating the license suspension.

“Are you clear on the fact that you cannot sell alcohol by the glass?” Councilman Fred Richards asked Davenport. “That you’re a package store, not a bar?”

“I don’t want to be a bar,” Davenport said. “So yes, I’m clear that I can’t sell it by the glass. I was under the impression that when I got the malt beverage tasting license that made that one-day special event available. Obviously, it’s not.”

Council members voted unanimously to reduce the suspension period from Dec. 31 to Sunday; while the license suspension will be lifted Monday, the business is normally closed on Mondays. It will reopen to regular hours on Tuesday.

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