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Lounge will seek alcohol licenses
NV Lounges city permit revoked after it violated several ordinances
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NV Lounge on Bradford Street has 30 days to get its city and state alcoholic beverage licenses in order.

The business lost its city license in February, and owners asked the Gainesville City Council for another chance Thursday.

The city marshal's office revoked the restaurant's city alcoholic beverage license after the lounge held a private party in January that violated several city ordinances. Council members decided to suspend the city license until the lounge obtains a state alcoholic beverage permit in the next month.

After 30 days, NV Lounge is on a six-month probation and is required to make bi-monthly reports on the amounts of food and alcohol served.

"We want to be supportive of businesses and understand how restaurants are struggling right now. We want to see downtown businesses thrive and have a chance," said Mayor Ruth Bruner. "Abide by the city ordinances and make sure you understand all of the ins and outs. We hope things will work out and that you will be successful."

Business owners Tiffiny Smith-Harrison and her husband Tarvares Harrison said they didn't understand the city's ordinance prevents city alcoholic beverage permit holders from providing alcohol at a private party outside of a wholesale dealer. Before they obtained the permit in January, they were allowed to cater alcohol at events as a restaurant.

"Their decision is what I was hoping for, and I really appreciate the opportunity to show we can make it," Smith-Harrison said after the hearing. "Now we're going to get our state license and see if we can make some revenue and get some money going."

The appeal hearing stretched nearly two hours long Thursday morning as council members heard both sides of the story. A police incident report was not filed after the January party, and witnesses disagreed with police officers on several details from the night.

On Jan. 29, officers were patrolling the downtown square after breaking up a fight in the Wild Wing Cafe parking lot. Two entered NV Lounge after they saw a customer smoking inside the business and issued a citation.

On the following Monday, city marshal Debbie Jones sent a letter to NV Lounge about the smoking citation and other city ordinances, including one that requires restaurants to operate five days per week.

"We haven't been able to stay open every day of the week because my inventory was going bad and we weren't doing a lot of business," Harrison-Smith explained. "I work and pitch in to pay the rent to hold things together until we get the state alcohol license. I'm paying out of my pocket to make my business work."

Anwann Hill of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference represented Harrison-Smith and asked City Council members to help the small business get back on the right track.

"Did they make a mistake? Yes, probably, but I ask the council to put that into the conditions of the license rather than revoke it," he said. "Give them a chance to get this in order and fully understand what it takes to get this business running."