The city of Brookhaven is seeking to suspend the alcohol licenses of eight late-night venues, citing they are now categorized as “entertainment venues” under the revamped alcohol ordinance and are required to pay $100,000 to serve liquor, beer and wine and are also prohibited from selling alcohol on Sundays.

El Ocho Billiards on Buford Highway is one of eight businesses whose alcohol license is being suspended by the city of Brookhaven. (File/Dyana Bagby)

Letters went out April 18 from Finance Director Linda Nabors to Acapulco Tropical, Confetis Restaurant & Bar, Don Pollo Mexican Bar & Grill, El Ocho Billiards, La Casa Restaurant Bar & Lounge, Nina’s Bar & Grill, Pegasus Restaurant & Lounge, and Arif Lounge informing the owners their alcohol license is being suspended.

Don Pollo Mexican Bar & Grill is located in Corporate Square; the other seven businesses are located on Buford Highway.

Nabors stated in the letters that city officials conducted a “routine health and safety administrative inspection” at all venues on April 7 and found all to have either a DJ, dance floor or stage. Having one or all of these classifies the businesses as  “entertainment venues” that are now required to pay the steep alcohol license fee hike. Last year the alcohol license fees were approximately $5,000.

Nabors states that the businesses did not indicate they had either a DJ, dance floor or stage when they sought renewal.

“Based on the evidence gathered April 7 your application provides false information by failing to acknowledge your business model. Accordingly, the application is fraudulent and violates city of Brookhaven code,” the letters state.

The alcohol suspensions will begin Friday, May 18, unless the businesses pay the required $50,000 fee to serve liquor and $25,000 fee each to serve beer and wine as well as an additional $500 reinstatement fee. The businesses have 15 days to appeal the suspension and a hearing is slated for Monday, May 14, for those wishing to appeal, according to the letter.

This round of alcohol suspensions follows the alcohol license suspensions of four other venues earlier this year. The city originally only mandated the new $100,000 fee from four of the new “entertainment venues”: Josephine’s, Medusa Restaurant & Lounge, XS Restaurant & Lounge and Rush Lounge, all also located on Buford Highway. All four businesses are appealing denial of their alcohol license renewals in DeKalb Superior Court.

The city states it was forced to create a new category of “entertainment venue” and raise its alcohol license fees because of recorded instances of rising crime rates along Buford Highway caused by certain late-night venues. The extra revenue is needed to provide police resources, according to the city.

On April 13, Cary Wiggins, attorney for Josephine’s, Medusa and XS Restaurant & Lounge, filed a federal lawsuit against the city, stating it was unfairly targeting his clients that serve a mostly African and African-American clientele.

The lawsuit also states the city was enforcing the $100,000 fees against his clients when there were other businesses in the city with a DJ, dance floor or stage. Some of the businesses Wiggins noted in the lawsuit are included in the April 18 roundup of alcohol suspensions — Pegasus, Arif Lounge, Confetis, Nina’s Bar & Grill and Acapulco Tropical.

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.