Owner of Kirkwood bar to sue city over liquor license

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.”

6 comments Add your comment


January 31st, 2012
5:07 pm

Why in the world do you expect comments on this “news?”

Richard Weiner

February 1st, 2012
10:03 am

Prissy new residents want everything to be like the suburbs…


February 1st, 2012
1:55 pm

We love Le Petit Marche three doors down (black owned); we love Spade’s country cooking right across the street (black owned); we love the salon adjacent to KB&G (black owned). Maybe its the shaded out windows, the asking of police to leave the establishment because it upsets the clientele, the gunshots, and the potential for drugs. Maybe its because this owner doesn’t give two cents about being a neighborhood partner in Kirkwood. Maybe its because he’s on the down-low. All sorts of possibilities.


February 1st, 2012
10:42 pm

Time to spray-paint some more slurs somewhere. That’ll get sympathy or get the message across, depending on which POV you support.

The funny part for me is that I lived in Kirkwood about 30 years ago, and back then, it was a place where you hid after dark, kept the house lights off and prayed to escape alive the next day just like one of these Zombie shows. Guess things have changed.

Racism lives

February 2nd, 2012
7:49 am

more racism against African-Americans by the white kirkwood residents–it never ends. He should sue for big money for discrimination.

Clare A. Fire

February 2nd, 2012
1:30 pm

“more racism against African-Americans by the white kirkwood residents–it never ends.”
According to the facts here, @Racism lives, the mayor denied the permit. He’s a black guy. And there are black people on the review board.
“He should sue for big money for discrimination.”
In which court do you suggest this black restaurant owner should sue the black mayor for discrimination? Even Lady Justice with a blindfold can see the fallacy in that idea.