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Alcohol license under scrutiny

POSTED: March 27, 2013 4:00 a.m.

The owner of a local restaurant and bar has until April 22 to submit corrected calculations documenting her sales after initial reports showed she may have sold more alcohol than food in 2012.

Dawson County's alcohol ordinance requires eateries to draw 50 percent of their gross sales from food.

According to excise sales tax reports filed with the county, however, the percentage of alcohol sales in 2012 at Lorena's Food and Spirits was 51.3 percent.

Owner Lorena Adkins told the Dawson County commission the figures submitted for 2012 were inaccurate due to "several clerical errors" caused by the point-of-sale system at her business, which is off Ga. 400.

She appeared before the commission, which serves as the governing body for alcohol license reviews, on Thursday during a hearing that had been rescheduled from March 7.

Adkins said she determined last fall that her computer system was calculating items such as coffee and energy and soft drinks as alcohol sales since all beverage orders are rung up in the restaurant's bar.

The total that should have been recorded as non-alcoholic, she said, is about $4,800. That figure would place the restaurant's alcohol sales from last year in compliance at 49 percent.

After returning from a closed-door deliberation, the commission voted to again postpone the alcohol license suspension hearing until May 2.

It gave Adkins until April 22 to resubmit the corrected sales reports that must be certified by an accountant. She must also provide a copy of her 2012 sales tax returns.

Adkins' accountant, Don Benson, argued that a certified audit could be expensive for his client.

"She is volunteering that the reports were submitted incorrectly," he said. "We want to amend the reports to show that she is over the 50 percent as a result of a mistake that has been discovered.

"In normal channels, you would let her amend the reports. The county would look at the reports and then they would say whether we audit her or not, and the cost of the audit would be on the burden of the county."

In response, County Attorney Joey Homans said Adkins has had more than a month to resubmit the corrected calculations and had failed to do so.

"And we may have followed that if she followed that procedure, but there has been no amendment to these reports that have been turned in to the county," he said. "The board is trying to give you a chance ... If you don't want to take advantage of it, the board will take it up on May 2."

Adkins said she wants Lorena's Food and Spirits to become a more reputable restaurant and plans several changes, such as extending hours to include lunch and reworking the menu.

"Not now or in the future do I want to stay in that 50-50 range. I'm striving for a more respectable 70-30," she said.

If the business is found to be in violation, Homans said its alcohol license could be suspended or revoked for the balance of the year.

"They are renewable annually," he said.

The restaurant's alcohol license was reviewed under similar circumstances in 2008, though it was later determined to be in compliance.

 

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