The new ordinance rolls back the hours that nightclubs can pour alcohol.

Judge upholds reduced alcohol hours in Chamblee

A federal judge Wednesday upheld a City of Chamblee law that limits alcohol serving hours in the face of a challenge by a local nightclub.

Although Mansion Elan, the club in the suit, argued the law would unfairly harm their business and disproportionately impact minority residents, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Thrash allowed the law to stand while the lawsuit goes to a full trial.

The ordinance stops alcohols sales after 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday and prohibits alcohol sales after midnight on Sunday. Sunday sales would be allowed later than midnight on certain special occasions, such as Super Bowl Sunday.

The City of Chamblee adopted shortened alcohol serving hours in February, prompting a challenge from two area nightclubs. (AJC File Photo)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Chamblee passed an ordinance reducing the bar operating hours from 3 a.m. to 2 a.m. effective earlier this month. The bar owner sought an injunction against the law pending a full court hearing.

“Judge Thrash did not find that, at this early stage of the litigation, we had enough evidence that Ordinance 745 was racially motivated to justify an injunction to stop its enforcement,” Leon Rogers, the attorney for Mansion Elan, said in a statement. “We are considering our appeal options.”

A spokesperson from the City of Chamblee said the city could not comment on pending legislation.

Mansion Elan filed a lawsuit to stop the shortened bar hours from going into effect on June 5, the same day the City of Chamblee was set to begin enforcing its new hours. Another club in Chamblee, Follies, also filed a lawsuit against the city the same day.

The club said the law would hurt their businesses because the reduced hours would cut into their alcohol sales. Mansion Elan also said the ordinance is discriminatory because its clientele is largely minority.

Rogers wrote in the club’s complaint that the new policy would cause the establishment to lose “over 50 percent of its revenue” and would threaten the business with closure.

Both clubs paid $6,700 dollars for a 2018 alcohol license without knowing the city planned on cutting back on serving hours. They have insisted clubs that had alcohol licenses before the law went into effect should be grandfathered into the old hours.

The ordinance was unanimously passed by the Chamblee City Council in February, and, after being pushed back from an original start date of April, was planned to take effect this month.

Reduced pouring hours have taken effect across DeKalb County in the past six months. Alcohol sales were limited to 2 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 2:30 a.m. Thursday through Saturday in unincorporated parts of the county after the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners voted to do so in December.

Neighboring Brookhaven also reduced its pouring hours from 3 a.m. to 2 a.m in April. The change was in response to Brookhaven police receiving a high number of calls between midnight and 6 a.m. relating to establishments which served alcohol.

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