The Sandtrap and Big Daddy’s Lounge owner Gilbert Udoto answers questions posed by Albany city commissioners during a liquor license revocation hearing Tuesday.
ALBANY, Ga. — Big Daddy’s Lounge owner Gilbert Udoto became the “odd man out” Tuesday afternoon when Albany city commissioners voted 5-0-2 not to renew the alcohol license of one of his clubs.
Big Daddy’s was the only one of five establishments recommended for non-renewal because of the severity of illegal activity in and around their premises that actually lost its license. The Sandtrap Lounge, also owned by Udoto, and Legends Lounge maintained their licenses after hearings Tuesday.
Charley B’s and Club Xscape had also escaped non-renewal following earlier hearings.
Udoto’s Sandtrap Lounge retained its license when only two commissioners — Tommie Postell and Jon Howard — voted for non-renewal. In the first decision of the day, Club Legend, owned by Lamar Colquitt, was allowed to maintain its license by a 3-3-1 vote. Postell, Howard and Bob Langstaff voted for non-renewal. Commissioner Ivey Hines abstained, deciding the issue in Colquitt’s favor.
Four votes were required for revocation.
City Attorney Nathan Davis cited two shootings near Big Daddy’s last year — one that resulted in a fatality and the other a Christmas-morning shooting in which multiple shots were fired — saying they provided more than enough evidence to yank the club’s license.
Earlier in the hearing, Postell had questioned the club’s hours, its capacity and accused the establishment of allowing entrance to teenagers.
While none of Postell’s charges were at the heart of the revocation hearing, Davis acknowledged they may have factored into the commission’s decision.
“(Postell’s) assertions came close to matching the rest of the evidence we presented,” Davis said. “The business is a public nuisance. City code says with a liquor license also comes the responsibility to maintain security inside and outside the building and in the parking areas.
“This was not done.”
Udoto’s attorney, former city commissioner Bo Dorough, said he felt the hearing’s outcome was predetermined.
“(The commission) wanted somebody’s head on a pike and they got it,” Dorough said. “The evidence established that the homicide victim in the Shackleford Shopping Center’s parking lot was not a patron of Big Daddy’s. There were two calls to the area of Big Daddy’s in a 12-month period, and it is unfair for him (Udoto) to lose his license because there was no reason not to renew.
“Mr. Udoto is doing everything in his power to protect his patrons. I believe a lot of Mr. Postell’s anger directed toward my client was because of his personal animosity for me.”
Postell said he hoped the revocation will send a message to the community.
“We just sent info to the public that we are not going to tolerate places where teenagers can gather illegally. These kids’ lives mean a lot to me,” Postell said. “Big Daddy’s has been out of line for a long time, and we just showed them we’re not going to be a bunch of patsies.”
Earlier in the day, Club Legends at 725 E. Broad Ave. kept its license when the commission failed to muster four votes to take it away.
Asked before the ruling if there was enough evidence to pull Legends’ license, Chevene King, the attorney who represented Colquitt, said, “If there was, then there is enough to close every bar business in Albany.”
Davis called six members of the Albany Police Department to discuss problems law enforcement officers have encountered at the club during the past 12 months. Among the complaints were underage alcohol sales, smoking and distribution of marijuana inside the club, and sale of unopened malt beverages.
When Colquitt admitted to selling “buckets of beer” without opening each beer sold, Davis asked him if he was aware that the city’s ordinance specifically forbids owners from selling unopened malt beverages.
“Did you expect me to open six bottles of beer at one time?” Colquitt asked. When Davis reiterated that the ordinance requires him to do so, Colquitt said, “Who’s going to take the time to sit and read all the stuff that’s in that (ordinance)?”
Asked after the ruling about the results of the hearing, Colquitt said, “I don’t have no comment to make.”
Langstaff, who voted against license renewal for all of the establishments but the Sandtrap, said Tuesday night he was unsatisfied with the outcome of the hearings.
“I voted against all but the Sandtrap, and the reason I didn’t vote for (non-renewal of) the Sandtrap was because I don’t believe there was enough evidence presented to warrant it,” Langstaff said. “There certainly was enough evidence in all the other cases.
“I believe law enforcement did a good job of presenting compelling evidence to warrant non-renewal of these clubs, and I expect that kind of scrutiny to continue. If there’s strong enough evidence at any time now, law enforcement can ask the city manager to revoke the establishment’s license. Then we’ll go through this process again.”
Asked about the commission’s failure to take the licenses of clubs despite evidence pointing to direct ordinance violations, Code Enforcement Director Mike Tilson said, “Our job is to collect the evidence and present it to the commission. They’re the ones who make the decisions.”
Asked the same question, Police Chief John Proctor said he preferred not to comment.