By Erica Thomas, managing editor
The Trussville City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday, May 14, 2019, to revoke the alcohol license for Courtyard Oyster Bar and Grill Trussville. Effective immediately following the vote, the restaurant was no longer allowed to sell alcohol.
The issue was brought up after undercover agents came into the business on Chalkville Moutain Lane on two occasions and said they witnessed the selling of alcohol to underage persons. Police Chief Eric Rush presented police reports documenting 23 incidents at the restaurant in the two-and-a-half years it has been open. Rush said that is an unusual amount of incidents for police to be involved in for any business in the city of Trussville.
Among crimes reported were identity theft, public intoxication, criminal trespassing, domestic incidents, firearms violations, reckless endangerment, robbery, carrying brass knuckles and a slingshot, a suicide attempt, theft of property, assault, criminal mischief, menacing, underaged sell of alcohol, and recently, there was a heroin overdose at the location, according to Councilman Brian Plant.
The owner of Courtyard Oyster Bar and Grill, Michael Cantanese, was called before the council to answer questions about operations at his business. He pointed out that the person who overdosed on heroin was not served by Courtyard. He said the man was only there for about seven minutes when the incident happened.
When asked about serving alcohol, Cantanese said he has procedures in place to avoid overserving people. He said he has talked to his staff about recognizing the signs of intoxication and the importance of serving one patron at a time. He said safety is an ongoing conversation with his employees.
There are also Courtyard Bar and Grill locations in Alabaster, on Highway 280 and in Pell City. The Alabaster and Hwy 280 locations operate under a bar license, while the Trussville and Pell City locations operate under a restaurant license, according to Cantanese.
At the Trussville location, Cantanese said people under the age of 21 are not allowed in after 5 p.m. Cantanese said although percentages vary from month-to-month, more food is sold than alcohol at the restaurant. The restaurant stays open until 2 a.m. The business has door security on Thursday — Saturday nights.
Cantanese said there have been incidences where managers have called the Trussville Police Department to ask for assistance removing people who appear to be intoxicated. Councilman Plant said the list of incidences shows there has been a burden put on the city’s police force and he said the incidents put police, patrons and people who work at Courtyard in danger.
Cantanese said he plans to fight to get his license back.
“Oh yeah, it’s going to be appealed,” Cantanese said. “We’re going to sue the city and the police.”