KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Billiards and Brews has been under a lot of scrutiny for a while. It’s one of the places that was accused of breaking pandemic curfew orders when those were still active. A man was also shot and killed in the complex’s parking lot.
Earlier this month, WATE obtained citation notices outlining an undercover operation.
State agents said they were able to buy alcoholic drinks, and that the bar was breaking the law for selling them without a liquor license.
The owner of Billiards and Brews, Richard Lawhorn, is now telling his side of the story.
“This is proof that we filed the appeals,” Lawhorn said while holding up a stack of documents. “It’s basically showing that they received it.”
Lawhorn has months’ worth of papers that document run-ins with Knoxville Police and the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
The bar had its liquor license revoked by the Knoxville Beer Board last year due to multiple COVID-19 curfew violations.
“My position on that all along is, that’s not legal, it goes against the constitution, and what she was doing when you look at the people who work for bars, the majority of them are between the ages of 21 and 26. They’re young mothers with kids, with rent and she was putting them out of work,” Lawhorn said.
Last week, a search warrant was executed claiming he violated multiple city codes, including the unlawful sale of alcoholic beverages and storage of alcoholic beverages for resale without a valid permit.
However, Lawhorn said his liquor license is valid pending investigation.
“We’re going to have to sell the bar,” Lawhorn added. “The plans going forward is my attorney Mr. Egli has filed for a hearing in Davidson County over what’s happened and there are going to be multimillion-dollar lawsuits filed concerning this. We’re filing them for conspiracy, we’re filing for taking the beer license, for taking the liquor license the first time, before I went to court, and were going to file the illegal search and seizure of the bar when I have a valid liquor license.”
He continued by saying, “It’s a grand conspiracy that’s been going on to shut me down from the get-go. that was their whole plan, and their plan is because I stood up for the constitutional rights.”
State regulators suspended Billiards and Brews’ liquor license in January 2021. The next month, the Knoxville Beer Board revoked Billiards and Brews’ beer permit after being cited 18 times for violating the county’s curfew. Later in April 2021, the bar began serving alcohol again after an injunction was filed by a judge allowing for alcohol sales to resume.
Now, the bar is facing criminal citations related to the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission bust and search warrant.
“What it all comes down to is they never should have searched the bar. I have a valid liquor license. It’s valid right now and it has been valid for a long time,” Lawhorn said.
Lawhorn added that he knows he doesn’t have a beer license but followed the correct procedures and the liquor license should be valid pending an investigation.
“I’ve already paid a $1500 liquor fine, I served a 90-day liquor suspension before I ever went to court on the first citation, they suspended my beer license before I ever went to court for a citation, and it’s been suspended for 17 months.”
Lawhorn said that he and his lawyers are in the process of filing several lawsuits regarding the citations connected to the search warrant and other pending violations.
“I will win this in the long run, but what they’ve done is found me guilty before I ever had my day in court,” according to Lawhorn.
We did reach out to our legal counsel.
We’re told that although a petition was filed to the Davidson County Chancery Court for their license to be reinstated, it is unclear whether that court had made a ruling yet on that request.
Lawhorn said although he is being forced to sell the bar, he has no plans to close. However, he will be selling it “as soon as possible.”