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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

In Sook Choi, d/b/a World Cup Billiards vs. SCDOR

South Carolina Department of Revenue

In Sook Choi, d/b/a World Cup Billiards

South Carolina Department of Revenue

For the Petitioner
Pro se

For the Respondent:
Carol McMahan, Esquire

For the Protestant:
Pro se




This matter is before the Administrative Law Court (“ALC”) for a final order and decision following a contested case hearing pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. §§ 1-23-310 et seq. (2005), S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-600(B) (Supp. 2006), and S.C. Code Ann. § 61-2-260 (Supp. 2006). The petitioner, In Sook Choi, d/b/a World Cup Billiards (“Petitioner”), applied for a liquor by the drink license pursuant to §§ 61-6-1600 et seq. for the location at 6119 White Horse Road, #4, Greenville, South Carolina 29611. Mr. R. H. Patterson, Sr. (“Patterson”) filed a written protest to the Petitioner’s application. Respondent South Carolina Department of Revenue (“Department”) denied the application pursuant to § 61-6-1825 due to the receipt of Patterson’s valid public protest. The Department stated in the Final Agency Determination that it would have granted the permit but for the receipt of the public protest.

After notice to the parties and the protestant, the court held a hearing on this matter on March 22, 2007. Both parties and the protestant appeared at the hearing. Evidence was introduced and testimony presented. After carefully weighing all of the evidence, the court finds that the Petitioner’s application for this location should be granted.


The only issue in dispute is the suitability of the location. Schudel v. S.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Comm’n, 276 S.C. 138, 276 S.E.2d 308 (1981).


Having observed the witnesses and exhibits presented at the hearing and closely passed upon their credibility, and taking into consideration the burden of persuasion by the parties, the court makes the following Findings of Fact by a preponderance of the evidence.

Evidence was presented regarding all of the relevant statutory criteria. Notice of the time, date, place, and subject matter of the hearing was given to all parties and the protestant.

The Petitioner seeks a permit for a license to sell liquor by the drink for the location at 6119 White Horse Road, #4, Greenville, South Carolina 29611. The proposed location is outside the municipal limits of Greenville. Notice of the application was lawfully posted at the location and was published in a newspaper of general circulation.

Ms. In Sook Choi is the sole owner of the business seeking the requested license. She is over the age of twenty-one. She is of good moral character and has never had a permit or license to sell beer, wine, or liquor revoked. She has no criminal record and does not owe the state or federal government any delinquent taxes, penalties, or interest.

The Petitioner seeks the requested license for a pool hall and restaurant, World Cup Billiards, which she has operated for four and a half years. The Petitioner has been permitted to sell beer and wine since its inception without any citations for violations of the alcoholic beverage control statutes or incidents necessitating police involvement.

The proposed location is in a shopping center on White Horse Road. The area in the vicinity of the proposed location is substantially commercial consisting predominantly of retail stores and restaurants. Parking at the proposed location is adequate.

Han Choi, the owner’s son, is the manager of World Cup Billiards. He testified regarding the nature of the business. World Cup Billiards is one of the largest pool halls in Greenville with twenty-two pool tables and a large customer base. The Petitioner applied for the liquor by the drink license to expand its business by offering more variety to its customers and to bring in more revenue. Han Choi stated that he and In Sook Choi are the only ones currently serving the alcohol and that they abide by the alcoholic beverage control laws. He further stated that he will ensure that future employees are properly trained as well. World Cup Billiards has three arcade games and Han Choi stated he is familiar with the gambling laws in this state and that World Cup Billiards abides by them.

Patterson testified in opposition to the application. Patterson believes the license should be denied for various reasons. First, he stated that there are already too many locations that serve beer, wine, and liquor in Greenville County and by increasing that number he fears it will increase the dangers in the community. Based on his experiences, he believes the economic and social harms from alcohol outweigh any benefits that may be derived from its sale or consumption. Further, Patterson testified that he believes there is not sufficient police protection in this state to allow permits or license to be issued. Finally, Patterson presented Mr. David Earle Griffith (“Griffith”) to provide support for his opposition. Based on Griffith’s personal experiences, he believes that alcohol is unsafe. Griffith also stated that the police force does not adequately protect the community from the effects of alcohol, but merely arrests people after crimes have been committed.


Based upon the foregoing Findings of Fact, the court concludes the following as a matter of law.

1. Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction over this case is vested with the South Carolina Administrative Law Court pursuant to §§ 1-23-310 et seq., § 1-23-600(B), and § 61-2-260. “[T]he issuance or granting of a license to sell beer or alcoholic beverages rests in the sound discretion of the body or official to whom the duty of issuing it is committed[.]” Palmer v. S.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Comm’n, 282 S.C. 246, 248, 317 S.E.2d 476, 477 (Ct. App. 1984); see also Wall v. S.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Comm’n, 269 S.C. 13, 235 S.E.2d 806 (1977). The weight and credibility assigned to evidence presented at the hearing of a matter is within the province of the trier of fact. See S.C. Cable Television Ass’n v. S. Bell Tel. & Tel. Co., 308 S.C. 216, 222, 417 S.E.2d 586, 589 (1992). Furthermore, a trial judge who observes a witness is in the best position to judge the witness’s demeanor and veracity and to evaluate the credibility of his testimony. See, e.g., Woodall v. Woodall, 322 S.C. 7, 10, 471 S.E.2d 154, 157 (1996); Wallace v. Milliken & Co., 300 S.C. 553, 556, 389 S.E.2d 448, 450 (Ct. App. 1990).

2. Suitability of Location

a. Generally

Section 61-6-1820 sets forth the basic criteria for the issuance of a liquor license. However, a liquor license may be denied if the proposed location is not suitable. See Schudel v. S.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Comm’n, 276 S.C. 138, 276 S.E.2d 308 (1981). Therefore, a license may be denied if the location of the business is not a proper one.

b. Factors in Determining Proper Location

“Proper location” is not statutorily defined, but broad discretion is vested in the trier of fact to determine the fitness or suitability of a particular location for the requested permit. See Fast Stops, Inc. v. Ingram, 276 S.C. 593, 281 S.E.2d 118 (1981). In determining whether a proposed location is suitable, it is proper for this tribunal to consider any evidence that shows adverse circumstances of location. Kearney v. Allen, 287 S.C. 324, 326, 338 S.E.2d 335, 337 (1985); Palmer, 282 S.C. at 249, 317 S.E.2d at 478 (citing Smith v. Pratt, 258 S.C. 504, 189 S.E.2d 301 (1972)). The determination of suitability of location is not necessarily solely a function of geography. Rather, it involves an infinite variety of considerations related to the nature and operation of the proposed business and its impact on the community within which it is to be located. Kearney, 287 S.C. at 326-27, 338 S.E.2d at 337; Schudel, 276 S.C. at 138, 276 S.E.2d at 308. Further,

a liquor license or permit may be properly refused on the ground that the location of the establishment would adversely affect the public interest, that the nature of the neighborhood and of the premises is such that the establishment would be detrimental to the welfare . . . of the inhabitants, or that the manner of conducting the establishment would not be conducive to the general welfare of the community.

48 C.J.S. Intoxicating Liquors § 121 at 501 (1981).

Other factors may be considered when determining whether a location is proper. For example, a liquor license shall not be granted if the place of business is within 300 feet (if within a municipality) or within 500 feet (if outside a municipality) of any church, school, or playground. § 61-6-1820(3); § 61-6-120.

Additionally, consideration can be given to the impact the issuance of the license will have on law enforcement. Fowler v. Lewis, 260 S.C. 54, 194 S.E.2d 191 (1973); Roche v. S.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Comm'n, 263 S.C. 451, 211 S.E.2d 243 (1975). Evidence that the granting of a permit will place a strain upon police to adequately protect the community must be weighed. Moore v. S.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Comm’n, 308 S.C. 160, 162, 417 S.E.2d 555, 557 (1992). Denial is appropriate where the public areas surrounding the proposed location have been the source of constant law enforcement problems or significant problems with public intoxication. Roche, 263 S.C. at 451, 211 S.E.2d at 243. Another pertinent factor is whether police have been summoned to the scene on prior occasions when licensed to another party. Schudel, 276 S.C. at 141-42, 276 S.E.2d at 309-10. It is relevant whether the location is near other locations that have either been a constant source of law enforcement problems or are locations where young people congregate and loiter. Palmer, 282 S.C. at 250, 317 S.E.2d at 478.

Similarly, consideration can be given to whether the location is heavily traveled or creates a traffic danger. Id. Furthermore, whether the location has in the recent past been permitted and whether the location is now more or less suitable than it was in the past is a relevant factor. Taylor v. Lewis, 261 S.C. 168, 198 S.E.2d 801 (1973). Finally, a valid consideration is whether the surrounding area is substantially commercial. Id.; Byers v. S.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Comm'n, 281 S.C. 566, 316 S.E.2d 705 (Ct. App. 1984).

Without sufficient evidence of an adverse impact on the community, a license application must not be denied if the statutory criteria are satisfied. The fact that the issuance of a license is protested is not a sufficient reason, by itself, to deny the application. See 48 C.J.S. Intoxicating Liquors § 119 (1981). Moreover, the denial of a license to an applicant on the ground of unsuitability of location is without evidentiary support when relevant testimony of those opposing the requested license or permit consists entirely of opinions, generalities, and conclusions not supported by the facts. Taylor, 261 S.C. at 171, 198 S.E.2d at 802.

c.                   Conclusions

After carefully weighing the evidence and applying the law as discussed above, the court finds the proposed location to be suitable. The area surrounding the proposed location is primarily commercial. No evidence was presented of law enforcement problems either at the proposed location or in the surrounding area. Parking is adequate.

The court observes that the proposed location has held a permit to sell beer and wine for four and a half years with no problems that would contraindicate licensure. Although Patterson stated that the police protection is insufficient in the area, he offered no evidence that the proposed location has been a source of problems for law enforcement. The court finds that Patterson’s concerns as to the proposed location, though sincere, are simply too general and speculative to warrant denial of the permit and license sought. Patterson’s main concerns were speculations as to impaired drivers and the social harms that alcohol may cause. The court finds that Patterson’s general fears are insufficient to demonstrate an adverse impact on the surrounding community of the proposed location. Patterson’s remaining concerns are political in nature and are properly addressed to the General Assembly rather than this court, which is bound to apply the laws passed by the legislature.


Based upon the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law stated above, the court finds that the Petitioner meets all of the statutory requirements for the issuance of a license to sell liquor by the drink. It is therefore

ORDERED that the Department shall GRANT Petitioner’s application for a license to sell liquor by the drink for the premises located at 6119 White Horse Road, #4, Greenville, South Carolina 29611 in accordance with § 61-2-80 and § 61-6-1820.




Administrative Law Judge

April 9, 2007

Columbia, South Carolina


Brown Bldg.






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