Newnan suspends J Paul’s liquor license

by Celia Shortt

Newnan City Council on Tuesday voted to suspend bar J Paul’s liquor license for two weeks.

J Paul’s General Manager Mike Gullatt requested a continuance from the council because the licensee of the bar, Paul Marmol, is out of the country and will not return for two weeks.

Newnan City Attorney C. Bradford Sears Jr. recommended to the council that it grant the continuance until the next city council meeting on Oct. 22 at 6:30 p.m.

“I would recommend a continuance for two weeks till the next meeting,” he said.

Legally, the continuance would allow Mr. Marmol to be present and available for cross-examination by the city council. It would also remove the liability of him claiming he was not there to speak on his behalf.

Marmol’s attorney was notified of the hearing and was not present. Marmol is legally allowed to have representation at the meeting, but he did not. Gullatt found out about the hearing on Thursday and was there to simply ask for a continuance and give a report on the food sales.

“My concern with the continuance is that they will continue to do the same thing,” said Councilman George Alexander.

Mayor Keith Brady suggested and the council decided to proceed with the hearing, but rather than revoking the license, suspend it for two weeks and have another hearing at the Oct. 22 city council meeting.

On May 28, the mayor and city council put the Jackson Street establishment on probation for 14 months. The terms of its probation required J Paul’s Bar to submit monthly reports certifying that its employees have received “appropriate training and retraining on the requirements of the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Ordinance.”

Newnan City Clerk Della Hill testified that J Paul’s Bar submitted reports for June, July and August. Those for July and August, however, were simply copies of the one submitted in June, according to city council agenda materials. All had been signed by Paul Marmol on June 10.

“The licensee was going to be out of the country,” said Gullatt. “So, he got all his affairs in order and signed the documents. When we were at the last meeting, they didn’t inform that the licensee had to perform the training himself. I actually performed the training.”

“After I held the training each month, I turned the documents in,” he added.

Gullatt said his training included reading the alcohol ordinance to his staff. He also utilized a sign-in sheet, to track their attendance.

Gullatt further stated that they weren’t trying to be deceptive. They knew Marmol was not going to be there each month and all the documents had the same date on them because he was going to be out of the country and not there in person for the training.

“We didn’t think it would be a big deal,” he said. “It was just a training that we were required to do. The training was performed. The documents was turned in every month.”

Also included at the hearing was a letter from Roger McDonald saying he was not an employee at J Paul’s. McDonald had been listed as the licensee representative. He had that titled transferred to Jerome White at the Sept. 10 city council meeting.

Gullatt said that McDonald was, in fact, an employee, and after the initial citations were given, was told by the prosecutor that if his name was removed as licensee representative, they would drop all charges.

Gullatt did report that J Paul’s had been open for lunch and its food sales now accounted for 57 percent of its revenue. To be in compliance, food sales must account for more than 55 percent.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the council voted unanimously to suspend J Paul’s alcohol license until 10:30 a.m. on Oct 23, subject to reconsideration of any additional penalty or reinstatement at the Oct 22 6:30 p.m. city council meeting.

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