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Starkville restaurants back to business after alcohol license suspension


Tim Pratt



STARKVILLE -- Two Starkville restaurants are now serving alcohol again after the State Tax Commission''s Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control suspended their liquor license last week. 


According to Tax Commission spokeswoman Kathy Waterbury, the lone liquor license for Restaurant Tyler and Barrister''s Bar and Grill, which are located in the same downtown building, was suspended from Dec. 28 to Jan. 4 for a violation in September. The charge was for allowing consumption of alcohol after legal hours on Sunday, Sept. 20, Waterbury said. On weekends, Starkville bars and restaurants must stop serving alcohol by 1 a.m. 


According to Brian Kelley, co-owner of Barrister''s and Restaurant Tyler, the violation resulted from two employees who were having a drink after the restaurants closed.  


"Restaurant Tyler, as a practice, always follows all city and state laws regarding alcohol," Kelley said in an e-mailed statement. "Several months ago, we had two employees drinking an alcoholic beverage after the restaurant had closed for the night, which was not permissible under an ABC ordinance. As a result, we reached an agreement with the State Tax Commission to not serve alcohol at Restaurant Tyler for one week. We have stressed the importance of following the ABC ordinances with our employees and are confident this was an isolated incident by these two employees." 


Barrister''s is located above Restaurant Tyler, at the corner of Main and Washington streets, and has a balcony overlooking downtown.  


Starkville Police Department Chief David Lindley gave a different account of the September incident.  


"Basically, what happened was, an employee served a patron on the balcony outside upstairs, and it was caught on videotape," Lindley said. "We have (security) cameras on Main Street and the violation was observed, and we just turned it over as an after-hours sale and purchase to the ABC. As I recall, it was an actual serving of a drink to someone sitting on the balcony. Whether it was an employee or not, I don''t know. It looked just like a normal transaction." 


Both establishments are on probation for the next year, Waterbury said. If any more violations are discovered, such as consumption of alcohol after legal hours or serving underage patrons, the liquor license could be suspended again or revoked, she said. No fine was issued for the September violation. 


Restaurant Tyler and Barrister''s were closed during the evening hours of Dec. 28 to Jan. 4, but not because of the alcohol violation, Kelley said. 


"We were closing down that week anyway," Kelley said. "We always close during the holidays." 


Still, Restaurant Tyler was open for lunch those days, Kelley said. He didn''t have much else to say about the issue, only that is has been "straightened out" and the establishments are back to business as usual.  


"Restaurant Tyler thanks all of its loyal customers for their continued support and looks forward to a great 2010," Kelley said. "We encourage you to dine with us this coming Saturday for brunch, where 25 percent of our food and alcohol profits will go the families of the Starkville fire victims." 


A Dec. 28, 2009 fire tore through the second floor of a building in the Academy Crossing apartment complex on Louisville Street. Nine people in Apartment E7 -- India Williams, 25, and her three children, Jacorian Vasser, 6, Richard Vasser Jr., 5, and Kamorian Williams, 2; Castella "Maria" Bell, 18, and her three children, Ta''Nayia Bell, 4, Jayvion Bell, 3, and Sumaya Bell, 6 Months; and 20-year-old Lakesha Gillespie -- died of smoke inhalation.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment Fred commented at 1/9/2010 8:11:00 AM:

It's amazing that this is the sort of thing we are spending time policing. It's difficult enough to keep a restaurant in business and here we have a high quality restaurant contributing in numerous ways to our city and the police and ABC feel the need to crack down on them for something that shouldn't even be regulated. The ABC should be entirely disbanded and the Starkville Police should find something more important to do.


Article Comment bleeds commented at 1/9/2010 7:31:00 PM:

I have no problem with what the ABC and the Starkville Police did in this matter. Like it or not, the law is the law.


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