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State's move to revoke liquor license prompts Fountain City bar owner to pay fine, install camera

The state Alcoholic Beverage Commission suspended Hatmaker's liquor-by-the-drink license in May. Jason Hatmaker says he's taken action to resolve the complaint.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The owner of a Fountain City bar outside of which two men were shot and killed says he's paid a fine and is back to selling liquor by the drink after the state moved to revoke his permit.

Jason Hatmaker said Wednesday he paid a $1,500 fine to the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission. He also installed a camera as a security measure in the front of Hatmaker's on Tazewell Pike.

He said he endured a 17-day state suspension that's since been resolved. Hatmaker's was open for business Wednesday.

By agreement, the business also has been placed on probationary status for a year, records state. If the state tickets Hatmaker's during that time for failing "to maintain law and order", its license will be immediately suspended, records state.

The bar still faces a June 28 hearing before the city Beer Board to address why its city beer license shouldn't be suspended or revoked, records show. The city sent him the notice on May 16 after the state moved to revoke his liquor license in May.

When asked about past disturbances at the business, Hatmaker said he ran a reputable place and couldn't control the actions of people who went there. He declined an on-camera interview.

The state ABC on May 6 suspended the liquor license, citing a litany of calls -- 34 in all -- for service to Hatmaker's from Jan. 1, 2022, to May 2, records show.

Two men who were members of quarreling motorcycle gangs ended up being shot to death outside after a confrontation at the bar the night of April 29, records state.

According to Scott Erland, Knoxville Police Department spokesman, the homicide investigation remains open.

"There have not been any arrests made, nor are there any new developments that we can make public at this point with the investigation still ongoing," Erland told WBIR.

Credit: WBIR
Hatmaker's in Fountain City after a disturbance earlier this year.

The bar's licenses are held by a limited liability company identified as Fountain City Investments LLC, records show. Jimmy J. Sarden of Knoxville is listed as the LLC's registered agent, records with the Tennessee Secretary of State show.

The state ABC issues liquor licenses. It issued a liquor-by-the-drink limited-service restaurant license for Hatmaker's.

Cities can issue beer licenses. Hatmaker's has one. The city Beer Board, which amounts to the Knoxville City Council, oversees pending actions against establishments with a city beer license.

In suspending the bar's liquor permit and moving to revoke it, the state said it posed "a risk to public health, safety, or welfare."

In its order of summary suspension, the state ABC listed calls for service since January that included 10 disturbances; two assaults; a fight; a hit and run; four thefts; and a shooting.

Credit: Knoxville Beer Board
Letter from Janet Testerman to Hatmaker's.

In addition, it cited the April 29 shooting in which the men died.

"Upon arrival, two men were found deceased in the parking lot immediately in front of the premises. Investigation revealed that an argument between members of two motorcycle gangs, the Outlaws and Pagans, began inside of the licensed premises. The fight turned physical inside of the building, and then moved into the parking lot in front of the building.

"Ultimately, the two deceased individuals were both shot in the head. Two other individuals were also shot during the altercation."

KPD identified the dead men as Knoxville resident Kenneth Burgett, 46, and Harrogate resident Patrick Petty, 30.

Back in December, the bar and grill was ticketed as the result of a fight between patrons on Nov. 19, 2020, that started inside Hatmaker's, records state. The fight ended up in the parking lot and resulted in a shooting.

One of the victims was found in the business's bathroom.

"The investigation further revealed that the victims were both known to be members of motorcycle gangs in Knoxville. Respondent paid a fine in resolution of and admitted guilt to the violations alleged herein."

After being alerted about the state action, city Beer Board Chair Janet Testerman on May 16 sent Hatmaker's a letter notifying it that the board had set a June 28 date in the City County Building "to show cause why the permit to sell beer on the premises should not be suspended or revoked for a violation or violations as provided by (state law)..."

Hatmaker said it's always been his intent to operate a peaceful establishment with no violence.

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