COVINGTON - O'Zone Bar and Grill avoided denial of its alcohol license renewal application at Monday night's city council meeting but will now be under close supervision after Police Chief Stacey Cotton notified officials the restaurant is not in compliance with the alcohol ordinance.
Under the ordinance, restaurants serving alcohol must be open five days per week and serve at least one meal per day.
During routine checks to see if the latest round of license renewal applicants were in compliance, officers discovered that O'Zone, located at 8185 Old City Pond Road, is only open on Friday and Saturday nights.
"It's supposed to be a restaurant and the extras are that you serve alcohol. From what I understand from my officers and people out in the public, it's only open on Friday and Saturday nights, as a bar would be," Cotton said.
He recommended the council deny the renewal application.
O'Zone owner Roy Mote told the council a downturn in business had caused him to cut hours.
"When the economy got bad, I thought I was going to have to shut the doors," he said, adding that the restaurant has been open two days a week since September. "I apologize for any violation I may have done, but it wasn't intentional."
Mote said he now has two new business partners and plans to be open Tuesday through Saturday beginning Dec. 16.
Some council members said they were hesitant to deny the license if it could mean putting O'Zone out of business.
Instead, they agreed to approve the renewal with the condition that the establishment be closely monitored for six months. If found again to not be in compliance with the ordinance, the license will be revoked.
In other news, the council removed a requirement that alcohol license holders must reside in Newton County. This requirement was part of a new alcohol ordinance passed several months ago but was proving inconvenient for business owners.
City Manager Steve Horton said some owners who have been in the city for years but are not residents do not want to turn over their license to another party.
Now, residency is not required if the license applicant is a corporation authorized to do business in Georgia with a designated officer or general manager that is responsible for the license.
Crystal Tatum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.