Prattville – The Prattville City Council delayed a vote to grant a Lounge Retail Liquor, Class 1 License for Club BTS, LLC, doing business as Behind The Scenes, during Tuesday nights regular scheduled meeting at City Hall.
Councilman Mike Renegar moved to hold the vote for two weeks and the Council agreed unanimously to do so. The reason given for the delay was to obtain further clarification between a restaurant license and a lounge liquor license.
Hollywood stuntman/actor Hiro Koda, with more than 120 films to his credit, owns the Club BTS which is housed in the building formerly known as the Cobbs Ford Grill. The restaurant/nightclub will feature movie memorabilia, comedy, live acts, and karaoke nights.
Koda’s desire to bring a slice of showbiz to Prattville, has created a bit of controversy in his attempt to procure a lounge license for his business.
Koda applied for a lounge retail liquor license instead of a restaurant license due to the fact he understood that the lounge license would be required to permit they types of activities he desired at his establishment, such as live concerts etc.
According to Alabama Law Section 28-3A-11, “a lounge liquor licensee may permit dancing or provide other lawful entertainment on the license premises.”
During his attestation, Koda mentioned to the Council members that the Blue Iguana in Prattville only had a restaurant license.
“I know that the Blue Iguana that operates here in Prattville does not have a lounge liquor license even though they offer live entertainment,” Koda said.
Council President Dean Argo then remarked that he has no idea what the Blue Iguana does as he has never been there; however, he did know that he was not in favor of the teen night that is held there. And he knows that they advertise having live entertainment, so he didn’t know why they did not have a lounge license.
Councilman Tom Miller asked who actually enforced the ABC Board licensure.
“It is my understanding, after conferring with the City attorney, that the ABC Board does very little action unless there is a complaint from someone,” explained Argo.
A small group of supporters were on hand to help plead Koda’s case to the Council. Among those who took the podium to speak to his character, his desire to follow the law pertaining to this matter, and the need for this type of entertainment outlet were members of his own family and James “JT” Thompson (Koda’s Realtor) of Montgomery radio station Mix 103.
“Koda has presented this Council with the ‘letter of the law’ as it stands in Alabama,” Thompson stated. “The law states if there is live music or a cover charge of any kind, a lounge license is what that must fall under. So, my client is trying to do the right thing and apply for the correct license.”
Marketing Coordinator for Club BTS, Jake Johnson, said, “Golf tournaments and bass tournaments are coming to Prattville and people are staying the night and this will give them something to do… something clean and something safe. We’ll also have a transit bus system so that we can pick them up from hotels and take them back at no charge. I also strongly believe that Koda and his family would make positive role models in the community.”
During a short recess Koda was noticeably anxious about the process before him.
“I’m more nervous now than when I was jumping off of buildings. We really wanted to have a soft opening of the club on August 17,” said Koda.
When asked to comment after the meeting Councilman Ray Boles stated his concern about certain restaurants not having proper lounge licenses.
“I’m calling tomorrow to make a complaint on the Blue Iguana. They are breaking the law every which way but loose,” said Boles. “If we let one do it, we cannot let another do it. That would be like opening Pandora’s Box.”
“The Blue Iguana never got a liquor license like they were supposed to. I never realized that because I wasn’t around then, but I’m fixing to put the screws to them.”
The Blue Iguana is located on 1714 East Main Street in Prattville inside of Bama Lanes. When contacted by phone, General Manager, Chris Zinn, stated that as far as he knew he did not have to have a lounge liquor license.
“First of all, there are plenty of restaurants around the country that have entertainment. So, if he (Koda) is claiming just to have a restaurant, he just needs to apply for a restaurant license,” said Zinn. I’ve never heard of having to get a lounge liquor license if you have live entertainment.”
“We applied five years ago as a restaurant and was granted a restaurant license. I think if the gentleman offers a full menu like we do, then the city would have no problem granting him a restaurant license and would have no problem letting him provide entertainment. We’ve had the ABC Board come in on several occasions and if we don’t have menus on the table and a full kitchen they will cite us.”
The City Council is considering calling a work meeting to discuss the matter further before the next scheduled meeting on August 18.
Article by Marc Parker
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