Prattville Council denies Club BTS license

Hiro Koda watches intently as the decision is made - Photo by Marc Parker
Hiro Koda watches intently as the decision is made - Photo by Marc Parker

Prattville – The Prattville City Council denied a local businessman a lounge liquor license voting down the resolution 2-5. Council chambers were filled to capacity for Tuesday nights meeting.

After delaying the vote for two weeks and meeting with the ABC Board in a work session, the Council deliberated and concluded that the license should not be issued.

Councilman Bill Gillespie and Councilman Nathan Fank voted in favor of the resolution. Council President Dean Argo, Councilman Tom Miller, Councilman Willie Wood, Councilman Ray Boles, and Councilman Mike Renegar all voted against granting the lounge liquor license.

Hiro Koda, owner and operator of Club BTS, was attempting to bring a restaurant and entertainment complex featuring live acts, comedy, stunt shows, karaoke, and Hollywood memorabilia to the city.

Several pastors and private citizens spoke in opposition of granting the license. Concerns shared were primarily of a safety nature. Dr. George F. Seier spoke on this issue.

“I am with the Cobbs Ford Pet Health Center and I’ve been here for a number of years. I’m a very short distance from this establishment,” remarked Seier. “I am convinced that this is going to attract people who use drugs.”

Residents were also worried that having the lounge on the city’s main thoroughfare would bring in an undesirable element and increase the number of alcohol-related incidents.

Pastor Travis Coleman sharing his concerns with the Council - Photo by Marc Parker
Pastor Travis Coleman sharing his concerns with the Council - Photo by Marc Parker

Pastor Travis Coleman, of the First Baptist Church in Prattville, has lived in the community for about twenty years, and shared his feelings with the Council.

“I am very concerned that the lounge would affect the “family-friendly” atmosphere of the city,” Coleman said.

There were also a few people who spoke on behalf of the lounge liquor license, including Koda’s mother, Gwen Koda, who has lived in this area for thirty years. She stated that her son was honest and full of integrity and also addressed citizens’ issues concerning underage drinking.

“We live in an area where alcohol is legal, so please just look at the person,” Mrs. Koda stated. “This will be a smoke-free facility and no one will even be admitted in the front door who is under 21.”

Sam Golson, an employee of Club BTS, spoke regarding the issue of security.

“Most of the security staff at Club BTS is ex-military. We have been trained to know exactly how to handle different situations,” said Golson. “We know what we’re doing.”

Councilman Miller remarked that the entire issue was difficult for him because many elements had to be considered before a decision was made; however, a couple of issues were the deciding factor for his voting against the resolution.

“Well, it was the location, also the public safety issue… you know, the health and welfare of the community,” Miller said.

Crowd looks on as Council votes - Photo by Marc Parker
Crowd looks on as Council votes - Photo by Marc Parker

Councilman Fank cited legal issues as the reason for his affirmative vote.

“I didn’t see where we legally had… we didn’t have a legal argument or legal justification for not allowing the permit,” stated Fank.

Late Tuesday night, Koda released a press statement to Our Prattville. In it he stated his frustration, feeling that he was being punished for trying to do the right thing.

“Today the Prattville City Council rejected our request to become a part of this community,” he said in the press release.

“A lounge alcohol license is what the law clearly prescribes for our type of establishment, even though the word lounge doesn’t at all describe what it will be. We were advised by state alcohol regulators to pursue this license because that’s what the law says. Essentially, we are being punished by the City Council for following the rules.”

Koda remarked that Club BTS would have been a source of pride for the community and felt that the Council did not vote according to the law.

“Prattville is blessed to still have that unique hometown atmosphere, but as we grow it’s okay to have more venues of entertainment for young, responsible people to enjoy. Club Behind the Scenes is designed to be a fresh, exciting, but also tasteful establishment that Prattville would have been proud of. That could only have happened if the City Council had put politics aside and followed the law,” said Koda.

Koda suggested that the people on hand did not properly represent the majority of Prattville’s citizens regarding the licensing of his venue.

“It felt like the Council let 60 people speak on behalf of the thirty-five thousand residents in Prattville. Club BTS would have brought more than thirty jobs to the city as well as additional tax revenue during a time of economic hardship,” Koda said.

“It felt unfair that the Council used the opportunity to allow a second public discussion to give all the uninformed naysayers who were not at the assigned public hearing a chance to give their personal opinion,” he continued.

Koda expressed gratitude to Councilmen Gillespie and Fank for voting to approve the license.

“We would like to compliment the two Councilmen who voted in favor of our license request. We want them to know that we are sincerely grateful for their standing behind the state law as it is stated. – Thank you for doing your elected duty,” he stated

Koda has no definite plans at this time, but may begin to seek out another location for his club in the near future.

“For the question of what’s next for BTS, we are conferring with legal counsel and will start looking at nearby markets that will welcome a destination establishment located in their area,” Koda concluded.

Article by Melissa Parker

© 2009 Our Prattville. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the express written consent of the publisher.

20 thoughts on “Prattville Council denies Club BTS license”

  1. It’s pure discrimination is all I can say. The Blue Iguana offers the same thing to a lower quality clientele. Marchelles now offers live music ,but do they have a lounge license? I think not. Their was no legal reason to deny the license. I hope Mr. Koda sues the pants off the City. Tons of restaurant in the area serve alcohol. Some folks prefer to hang out in an adults only establishment. I would have come to support this passing but I never thought it would not pass or need supporting. Shame on the council memebrs who voted no.

  2. Its a shame, no doubt.
    Prattville or Smallville? Preferred Community or Mayberry?
    RTF has a fact, they wouldn’t commit to prattville unless Sunday Beer sales was allowed. (ok, as long as it’s not DRAFT!)
    Who has more decision making power here? The publically elected officials or their church congregation? My church believes in a loving god, not a vengeful one. This is 2009, not 1969.
    The Fact of the matter is that the Council dropped the ball. Let us keep in mind that a True Conservative is one who follows the law, not changes it as they see fit.

  3. Once again the city fathers vote along political and personal lines instead of following the law of not only the federal but state agencies that monitor drinking establishments. What a joke. And this is for you Mr Boles, I thought based on your last campaign that you would be an injection of level headed, responsible, law based voting into a council that has constantly voted more with its personal feelings than law based facts, I guess I was wrong. Councilman Bill Gillespie and Councilman Nathan Fank, i salute you. Mr Gillespie, as a resident of your district I would just like to say that you did your elected job and Im proud for that.

  4. I grew up in Prattville, and I left Alabama the minute I was 18 and had a job, like many other people that prefer to be surrounded by opportunity and common sense. Keep in mind Pastor(s), you live in the same state voted against an education lottery when your education system was ranked 49th in the country. At some point during the development of your spirituality, you have to be able to recognize what a blessing is. Jobs, and tax revenue are a blessing to your community. I would love to have a place to meet my old friends when I come back to visit, maybe see a comedy show or something, but instead, I’ll probably be spending my money in another community. I really hope this discriminitory attitude dies along with your generation.

  5. It was my understanding that he had several big name hollywood celebrities coming to the grand opening. Chances are if you have seen a movie in the last decade, you have seen a movie that he has worked on. Same goes for television. Do your research before you bash someone you don’t know. Nonetheless, 5 councilmen let us down. Maybe they should have listened to their own children instead of their parents.

  6. The comments on this site speak for themselves…. WOW is all I can say. Nobody wants the type of adult entertainment that I’m sure the council is scared of in Prattville. This type of establishment, similar to a Planet Hollywood in larger markets, would have been the exact opposite. A family-friendly, entertainment-based venue that was upfront enough about wanting to cross every T and dot every I that they took a risk and actually applied for the CORRECT license – unlike many other establishments in our city who continue to ignore the law and operate under the radar. Hey, as long as they don’t have a lounge license….. I guess they don’t have anything to worry about.

  7. I am dissapointed in last night’s outcome. The council held 2 public hearings, which I believe is not what last night was, but I may be wrong. NOT! I am shocked that Blue Iguana is still able to operate in the city with their Midget Wrestling events and the bikini boob contests. I know that almost everyone who spoke last night was NOT at the first public hearing, nor the work session. No, they decided to get up and speak because the Montgomery Advertiser wrote a negative article on Monday and got the over zealous citizens all fired up. The uninformed citizens didn’t even know the business plan for Club BTS. Shame on the council. Last time I checked, the Blue Iguana is on Main Street! – that is for the lovely lady who spoke last night! The city council needs to be thankful that new business wants to come to Prattville. Boy, they are selling that Highpoint Tower on Cobbs Ford like crazy, yea right! I hope the city council gets what they deserve, and I am sure they will. There goes our surplus tax dollars out the window paying off a justified lawsuit. Thanks a bunch!

  8. I couldn’t agree more with these comments. It is unbelievable to me that people who had no idea what his plans were would come and speak out against it. And the reasons for opposing the business like if it opened people would break into a vet clinic and steal drugs was just ludicrous! I hope he does open his business close by and I am sure he will be very successful. The 5 elected officials who opposed should be embarrassed.

  9. Prattville gains a thousand traffic lights down main street and no where worth stopping. Incredible.

  10. I recently moved to Prattville from Kansas City, Missouri. Watching this play out has been interesting and most humorous. If the City Council only understood how bacward hick like they are making Prattville, AL look. Most towns in Missouri would not only welcome a Club like this, but would help them get it started (the tax revenues from a place like this are awesome). It’s all about jobs and revenue and getting people to come to Prattville and spend spend spend. And just a footnote, I love it here in Prattville, Thank You for welcoming my Family to your Community

  11. Yep! Thats why you people in the south are so far behind the rest of the world. Take a look at the middle east and you’ll see what life is like when you allow the church to rule the people. Time for you to rise up and overthrow the radically opressive southern baptist’s who control your lives. Why would you allow the church to even speak on matters that do not concern them. They need to mind there own business and you people should keep seperate church and state business.

  12. Once again our little area is made to look like a bunch of bible thumpers stuck in the 1800s. As much as I love it here, I’m very disappointed in this decision as I think this business would bring a lot to the area. I do understand not wanting trashy places in our area, but this place promises to be of a higher caliber with owners that actually know what they are doing and can make it successful. Sad.

    1. Wine brands that can’t be sold because a breast is on the label. Now this. How long do we want to continue being the laughingstock of the country? Sounds like a very responsible, nice guy was shot down in his attempt to bring a quality entertainment facility to the area.

      I’d actually get out once in a while if someone would bring name bands and other real entertainers to Prattville. But no, let’s not do anything that would help the area grow. We don’t want to offend the hypocrites.

  13. What was the first miracle performed by Jesus? Yes; you’re correct, he turned the water to wine! Keep in mind this was done at a Wedding Party where they actually danced! What does the bible say about those elected as Deacons or Elders in the church? Not mere members but the Deacons and Elders? It says amongst other things: Should not be a man of much drink! It doesn’t say you can’t drink, it says should not be a man of much drink! The problem with Prattville is there are too many people who are actually more religious than Christ! Not more Christian, but simply more religious!

  14. This just reads to be absolutely absurd. At least Mr. Fank & Mr. Gillespie have their wits about them. I hope that in the future, the rest of the council hears our outcry and develops better judgement. Otherwise, I hope that they are not re-elected. Perception is Reality.

  15. Amen to all the logic! For shame to the truth behind the stereotypes that have long kept the south in the back of everyone’s minds and the butt of the nation’s many jokes. Such an embarrassment and Amen to all the TRUE comments spoken by all those concerned enough to respond. Hiro was, as he stated, punished for being honest and following the law. I get the same backlash daily – and often wonder why I even bother speaking the truth anymore. At what cost is one’s integrity. The very same thing these archaic prejudicial under informed subjective pseudo-representatives of the community claim they are in favor of (honesty and integrity) is the one thing that cost Mr. Koda the vote in favor of the lounge liquor license, how sad. These people made a mockery of the system on that day.

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