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Business Buzzzz, 12/7/2009

There’s never a good time for a business to go before the Savannah City Council to explain why its license to serve alcohol should not be suspended or revoked. But the timing is especially bad for Chili’s in Chatham Plaza.

Faced with a pair of citations charging that it violated Georgia law by serving alcohol to under-age minors, the restaurant has been ordered to appear before the council Dec. 17. This comes on the heels of a new get-tough city ordinance adopted last month for bars and hybrids, a combination bar and restaurant that closes food service at some point and becomes a bar. The establishments must send their servers, managers and door workers to alcohol server training and to undergo background checks.

The city action came after a number of establishments were cited for serving alcoholic beverages to minors. The council exempted restaurants but specified restaurants convicted of serving to minors would fall under the new licensing and background-check rules.

The city’s revenue department says the council can suspend a violator for however long it wants. Revocations are for six months. After that time,  the violator can reapply for a license, according to the department.

Suspensions are rare, according to Brett Bell, spokesman for the city. He said Wild Wings Café in City Market received a 10-day license suspension last spring for a couple of violations.

The most recent revocation was of the license of D.I. Grill, formerly Daiquiri Island, on Abercorn Street, he said.
Bell said the new server licensing law will go into effect in early March. The council gave establishments 120 days to comply, he said.

***
The smell of barbecue cooking over an open pit can be a wonderful thing. Now it’s doubly wonderful on Waters Avenue. Sitting side by side today as conveniently as pulled pork and cole slaw are the Smoke Station and newcomer Shane’s Rib Shack at 6730 Waters Ave.  Slowed-cooked baby back ribs, of course, are the mainstay of the Rib Shack menu, but barbecue offerings also include traditional hand-chopped chicken and pork, and many Southern sides.

Bruce Watford of Savannah has joined with Patrick Hopkins and Russell Rosengart as franchise owners. The trio plans to open five more stories in south Georgia and South Carolina by 2011, a Shane’s spokesperson says.

So why so close to another pulled pork purveyor?

“We chose this particular location for our first Shane’s Rib Shack in Savannah based on the high volume of traffic and the proximity to the hospital and downtown,” Watford says. “We felt it was a great area to introduce Shane’s Rib Shack to Savannah residents – with the nearest Shane’s locations being in St. Simmons and Brunswick, several of our Savannah locals are familiar with the concept.

More ribs the better, Watford says. “When seeking out locations we always evaluate the number of dining establishments and believe that this particular area could sustain another eatery.”

***

Armstrong Atlantic State University (AASU) is now authorized to offer is Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree independently following approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). “The approval by SACS validates our ongoing ability to offer an excellent physical therapy program,” said Anne Thompson, interim head of the AASU Department of Physical Therapy.

AASU has been offering the DPT degree through a consortium with the Medical College of Georgia and North Georgia College and State University since 2006. That consortium was dissolved in July 2009. Currently, AASU enrolls 20 students each year into its DPT program. The Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation Sciences, also in the Department of Physical Therapy, enrolls 260 students. Armstrong created the physical therapy program in 1994.

***

First National Bank’s shareholders got to meet the bank’s new boss Nov. 30 at an open house to inaugurate its new Savannah location at Stephenson and Habersham. The bank’s board ousted founder Heys McMath earlier in November and replaced him with banking consultant and former bank regulator Layne F. Huttenberger.  A spokesman for the board says First National has made steady progress in meeting its required capital levels since falling under a cease and desist order issued in September by the Treasury Department’s Office of the Comptroller. First National’s former location was at DeRenne Avenue and Abercorn Street.

***

The governors of Georgia, Alabama and Florida have announced that they are going to meet in Montgomery, Alabama on Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 1:30 p.m. to discuss the ongoing water dispute between the three states. The meeting will take place at the Wynfield Estate at the Wynton M. Blount Cultural Park in Montgomery.

***

It’s the season of charity and giving, and a number of local businesses are working to help.


Fred Williams Homebuilder, Inc. has agreed to be a drop-off point for Second Harvest Food Bank’s annual holiday food drive. Donations can be made at the Fred Williams Homebuilder corporate office located at 100 Commerce Court in Pooler from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. throughout the holiday season. Items most urgently needed are non-perishable meats and proteins such as canned ham, chicken or fish, peanut butter, soup, beans or peas. Please make sure all donations are labeled and unopened.

America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia distributes food to charitable food programs directly from their warehouse facility located in Savannah. Over 300 charitable programs in 21 coastal Georgia counties receive food donations to distribute in their local communities.

Bonna Bella restaurant, located at 2740 Livingston Ave., will host a holiday toy drive for The Salvation Army, on Saturday, Dec. 19, from noon until closing.  Guests who bring a new, unwrapped toy for ages infant to teens will receive $5 off their meal for that day. (Limited to one discount per person.) The daylong event will include drink and dining specials along with music by Savannah’s own Eric Britt from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Bonna Bella offers a waterfront dining experience with large deck areas, literally over the water, and panoramic views of the neighboring islands and open marshes.

And the Savannah Mall has partnered with Greenbriar Children’s Center and Goodwill Industries of the Coastal Empire, Inc. for a celebrity gift wrapping event to be held Thurs. Dec. 10 at the Savannah Mall from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.  The Greenbriar Gift Wrapping Center at Savannah Mall is located between the 24-Hour Family Fitness Center and GAP Kids.  Local celebrity volunteers will include Angela Beasley of Puppet People, Jesse Blanco of Fox  28 and Nancy Lynn and Dutch Dooley from KIX 96.

All monies collected from gift wrapping will benefit the programs and services of Greenbriar Children’s Center.  And anyone making a donation to Goodwill (clothing, house wares, furniture, computers and/or books) will receive $2 off any gift wrapping, and an entry to win a $200 Savannah Mall gift certificate (to be given away on Dec. 23) as well as a free Chick-fil-A sandwich.

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