The owner of a controversial Kirkwood sports bar said he plans to challenge the city of Atlanta’ss decision to deny his liquor license application.
Mayor Kasim Reed recently denied the alcohol permit for Kirkwood Bar & Grill when the issue landed on his desk for review after a December hearing by the city’s License Review Board, which voted to deny the permit.
David Johnson, owner of the bar at 1963 Hosea Williams Dr. SE, said he would appeal the decision and would sue the city based on a violation of his civil rights.
“There are a few remedies the law permits us to use,” Johnson said Tuesday. His attorney, Alan Begner, said he would file an appeal challenging the mayor’s decision that the mayor’s office said was based on neighborhood concerns. Kirkwood residents had complained that Johnson had violated city codes by staying open later than his permit allowed and that the restaurant was a magnet for crime.
“There is no ground to deny this application,” Begner said. He said the mayor used a rare provision to deny the permit — that “granting the license would be against the public convenience and advantage.” The attorney said the provision is rarely used because it is difficult to define what ‘public convenience and advantage’ means.
Johnson had charged Kirkwood residents were against his business because he is black. Opponents countered that many black residents and black businesses call the neighborhood home.
Earl Williamson, chairman of the Kirkwood Neighbors Organization, told the AJC in December that the complaints against the business have focused on public safety and quality-of-life issues, and were not racially motivated. He cited a “substantial number” of 911 calls to Johnson’s business and subsequent arrests since it opened last May.
Meanwhile Johnson said the business has managed to remain open by “just selling great food.”