Blue Light bar in Chattanooga shuts down after state liquor license is not renewed

Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / The Blue Light Bar and Grill is at 43 Station St. A sign for the bar was photographed in 2022.

The owner of the Blue Light bar, who has battled with the city's Beer Board over a half dozen citations against the Station Street club during the past two years, has not renewed his liquor license with the state to operate the downtown bar.

State regulators hand-delivered notice of the bar's closure last week to Blue Light founder and owner Brian Joyce, said Aaron Rummage, director of legislation, policy and communication for the Tennessee Alcohol Beverage Commission. Diceman Enterprises LLC, doing business as The Blue Light at 43 Station St. in Chattanooga, did not renew its state liquor license, which expired Aug. 5, Rummage said.

"As a result, we have sent a letter to Diceman Enterprises notifying them of their license closure," Rummage said in an email message Monday. "The letter was hand-delivered to Brian Joyce, who is an owner of Diceman and a listed manager for the license, on Aug. 15."

Joyce did not respond to repeated phone calls Monday about the future of the Blue Light. But the Blue Light was shut down this weekend. The sign that has been on the door of the tavern has been taken down and the door for the business is padlocked.

The nightlife along Station Street, on which Joyce's bar is located, has been in the spotlight following a string of violent incidents. Bars there were required to close earlier and restrict the carrying of open containers of alcohol after Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly issued an executive order targeting crime in the area.

Last week, Westbound Honky-Tonk was slapped with a three-day beer suspension for disorderliness after a fight took place on its premises.

The Blue Light and other bars, restaurants and entertainment venues on the north side of Station Street lease space in the Terminal Building of the Chattanooga Choo Choo, which was acquired two years ago by a Chicago investment group. The new owners, Northpond Partners, specialize in commercial real estate projects in historic and redeveloping parts of U.S. cities.

Joyce is the host of "The Morning Press" on WGOW-FM 102.3 and has discussed his grievances with the city Beer Board many times on his radio show. In a news conference in 2022, Joyce accused the city of being racist against his clientele and said the board and his neighbors on Station Street have a personal vendetta against him because the club has been successful.

The Beer Board for the second time revoked Blue Light's  beer permit in June. It found Joyce did not call police when a fight broke out on the bar's premises, though Joyce maintains he didn't have to because the law only stipulates he has to contact police, which he said he did in person.

Blue Light appealed, and in June Hamilton County Chancellor Jeffrey Atherton restored the permit on a temporary basis, allowing the bar to resume serving beer and ordering the bar to complete the safety plan mandated following a previous mediation with the city.

Joyce continued to make his case against the Beer Board in a Chancery court hearing Friday, arguing board members don't understand the codes they enforce and that they wield authority erratically.

Contact Dave Flessner at [email protected] or 423-757-6340.

Contact David Floyd at [email protected] or 423-757-6249.

  photo  Staff Photo by Dave Flessner / The Blue Light sign that previously adorned the downtown bar has been removed, and the door to the downtown pub is padlocked after the Tennessee Alcohol and Beverage Commission said the business's alcohol license expired Aug. 5.