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Administrative Law Court
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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

Samuel Gamble, d/b/a Casablanca II vs. DOR

South Carolina Department of Revenue

Samuel Gamble, d/b/a Casablanca II
1807 Front Street, Georgetown, SC

South Carolina Department of Revenue

For the Petitioner:
Pro Se

For the Protestants:
Pro Se

For the Department:
Lynn M. Baker, Esquire




This matter comes before the Administrative Law Judge Division (Division) pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 61-2-90 (Supp. 2002), S.C. Code Ann. § 61-6-1825 (Supp. 2002) and S.C. Code Ann. §§ 1-23-310 et seq. (1986 & Supp. 2002) for a contested case hearing. The Petitioner, Samuel Gamble, d/b/a Casablanca II, seeks an on-premise restaurant sale and consumption license. The applicant has been permitted for the sale of beer and wine at this location since September 2002. The South Carolina Department of Revenue (Department) set forth in the Agency Transmittal to the Division that it appeared that the applicant did not meet all statutory requirements for a sale and consumption license because the applicant did not appear to be primarily and substantially engaged in the preparation and serving of meals. Also, two Protestants appeared for a church situated in the general vicinity of the location. A hearing was held on August 7, 2003, at the offices of the Division in Columbia, South Carolina.


Having observed the witnesses and exhibits presented at the hearing and closely passed upon their credibility, taking into consideration the burden of persuasion by the Petitioner, the Department and the Protestants, I make the following Findings of Fact by a preponderance of evidence:

General Findings

1.Notice of the time, date, place and subject matter of the hearing was given to the Petitioner, the Department and the Protestants.

2.The Petitioner seeks an on-premise restaurant sale and consumption license for Casablanca II at1807 Front Street, Georgetown, South Carolina. This location has been permitted for the sale of beer and wine on-premises since September 2002, and is primarily operated as a bar with one hot meal available for its patrons Thursdays through Saturdays. The Protestants consented to the Petitioner receiving that permit as long as he did not sell alcohol. The Petitioner, however, now seeks a sale and consumption licence for this location.

3.The qualifications set forth in S.C. Code Ann. §61-6-1820 (Supp. 2002) concerning the residency and age of the owner of the location, Samuel Gamble, are properly established. Mr. Gamble has also not had a permit or license revoked within the last two years and notice of the application was lawfully posted both at the location and in a newspaper of general circulation. Furthermore, Mr. Gamble has not had any violations against his beer and wine permit since he has been in operation at Casablanca II. Finally, the proposed location is not too close to any church, school or playground.

4.Mr. Gamble has no criminal record and is of sufficient moral character to receive a sale and consumption license. Furthermore, no evidence was presented that challenged the reputation of the Petitioner’s business for peace and good order in the community or its principal’s moral character. The location has had several law enforcement calls in the past year but no concrete evidence was presented that these were due to the actions of the location’s patrons. In fact, one patron was picked up on an outstanding warrant by an off-duty officer without incident while the police received a call regarding a stolen bicycle and a hang-up. Finally, the location is primarily run by Robert Keith who at this time does not have an ownership interest in Casablanca II. Mr. Keith testified that he has no criminal record and I also find Mr. Keith to be of sufficient moral character.

Suitability of the Location

5.Casablanca II is situated on Front Street in a mixed commercial/residential area of the City of Georgetown. To the left of the location is an abandoned warehouse. However, residences are located to the left of that warehouse. To the right of the bar are more residences and just beyond those residences is a catholic church, the Protestants in this contested case. Furthermore, a residential community is located directly in front of the proposed location.

The location is open Monday through Saturday, beginning at 5:00 p.m. until the last patron leaves, or at midnight on Saturdays. The location generally has about thirty (30) to forty-five (45) patrons on a busy night. However, the location only has about fifteen (15) parking spaces and overflow patrons must park on the nearby unlined streets.

6.The location also has a “Grade A” license from DHEC for the preparation of meals, and, as set forth above, its patrons are currently offered a hot meal Thursdays through Saturdays. The meals comprise of sandwiches and daily specials which include chicken, pork chops, crabs, beans, rice and other similar meals. Additionally, the location has sufficient seating for its patrons to meet the regulatory requirements. The establishment also has a kitchen with a commercial stove with a vent, a two-compartment sink, a refrigerator, and storage space.

The Department argues that this location is not primarily and substantially engaged in the business of preparing and serving meals. Mr. Keith set forth that he was waiting on the issuance of this sale and consumption license to expand meal preparations. Nevertheless, the proposed location current derives no more than 20% of its profits from the sale of food. Furthermore, the location operates as a bar and not as a restaurant. Though the Petitioner contends he would expand the food services if granted a sale and consumption license, he offered no satisfactory explanation as to why he is currently operating as a bar rather than a restaurant with a beer and wine permit. Therefore, it appears that the service of food would remain an incidental portion of the Petitioner’s business even if he is granted a sale and consumption license.

7.The Protestants contend that the Petitioner's location is not suitable because of its close proximity to St. Cyprian Catholic Church and its adjacent Outreach Center, along with the residential nature of this area. They set forth that children play in this area and that traffic and parking are problems. Charlie Ball of the Outreach Center (Friendship Place) specifically set forth that Friendship Place serves a number of individuals with “drinking problems.” He was concerned about the effects the sale of alcohol at the proposed location would have on those individuals he is trying to help. Sister Kathleen Driscoll also cited her concerns for the safety of parishioners after the adjournment of night services.

The arguments of the Protestants appear to be based on a sincere concern for this area of the City of Georgetown. However, the Protestants’ evidence alone did not establish that this business would change the integrity of the neighborhood or create an overall adverse impact on the community if granted this sale and consumption license. Nevertheless, the residential nature of the area when viewed in light of the current operation of the business as a bar rather than a restaurant validates that granting a sale and consumption license to this location would change the integrity of the neighborhood and create an overall adverse impact on the community.


Based upon the above Findings of Fact, I conclude the following as a matter of law:

1.S.C. Code Ann. § 1-23-600 (1986 & Supp. 2002) grants jurisdiction to the Administrative Law Judge Division to hear contested cases under the Administrative Procedures Act. S.C. Code Ann. § 61-2-260 (Supp. 2002) grants the Division the responsibilities to determine contested matters governing alcoholic beverages, beer and wine.

2. A license for the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages must not be granted unless the provisions of S.C. Code Ann. § 61-6-1820 (Supp. 2002) are met. That section requires that a mini-bottle license be granted only to a bonafide business engaged in either the business of primarily and substantially preparing and serving meals or furnishing lodging. S.C. Code Ann. § 61-6-20(2) (Supp. 2002) sets forth:

‘Bona fide engaged primarily and substantially in the preparation and serving of meals’ means a business which has been issued a Class A restaurant license prior to issuance of a license under Article 5 of this chapter, and in addition provides facilities for seating not less than forty persons simultaneously at tables for the service of meals.

The definition of “meal” is limited by the regulation as not including “[s]andwiches, boiled eggs, sausages and other snacks prepared off the licensed premises but sold thereon . . . .” 23 S.C. Code Ann. Regs. 7-19 (B)(1)(Supp. 2002). Additionally, “primarily” is defined in 23 S.C. Code Ann. Regs. 7-19(A) (1976) as:

[T]he serving of meals by a business establishment constitutes a regular and substantial source of business to the licensed establishment and that meals shall be served upon the demand of guests and patrons during the normal "mealtimes" which occur when the licensed business establishment is open to the public and that an adequate supply of food is present on the licensed premises to meet such demand.

Furthermore, Regulation 7-19(A) (1976) states, in part, that in order to meet the requirements of S.C. Code Ann. § 61-6-20(2) (Supp. 2002) the location must “[p]repare for service to customers hot meals at least once each day the business establishment chooses to be open.”

3.Although "proper location" is not statutorily defined, the Administrative Law Judge Division is vested, as the trier of fact, with the authority to determine the fitness or suitability of a particular location. Fast Stops, Inc. v. Ingram, 276 S.C. 593, 281 S.E. 2d 181 (1981). The determination of suitability of a location is not necessarily a function solely of geography. It involves an infinite variety of considerations related to the nature and operations of the proposed business and its impact upon the community within which it is to be located. Kearney v. Allen, 287 S.C. 324, 338 S.E. 2d 335 (1985). In determining the suitability of a location, it is proper for this Court to consider any evidence that demonstrates the adverse effect the proposed location will have on the community. Palmer v. S.C. ABC Comm'n, 282 S.C. 246, 317 S.E. 2d 476 (Ct. App. 1984). It is also relevant to consider the previous history of the location. Smith v. Pratt, 258 S.C. 504, 189 S.E. 2d 301 (1972); Taylor v. Lewis, et al., 261 S.C. 168, 198 S.E. 2d 801 (1973). Furthermore, in considering the suitability of a location, it is relevant to consider whether the testimony in opposition to the granting of a license is based on opinions, generalities and conclusions, or whether the case is supported by facts. Smith v. Pratt, 258 S.C. 504, 189 S.E. 2d 301, (1972); Taylor v. Lewis, et al., 261 S.C. 168, 198 S.E. 2d 801 (1973).

4. Permits and licenses issued by this State for the sale of liquor, beer and wine are not property rights. They are, rather, privileges granted in the exercise of the State's police power to be used and enjoyed only so long as the holder complies with the restrictions and conditions governing them. The Administrative Law Judge Division, as the tribunal authorized to grant the issuance of a permit, may likewise place restrictions or conditions on the permit or license. See Feldman v. S.C. Tax Commission, 203 S.C. 49, 26 S.E.2d 22 (1943).

5.Based upon the evidence presented and the law set forth above, I find that the Petitioner is not “primarily and substantially” engaged in preparing and serving meal. Furthermore, the location as currently operated is not suitable for a sale and consumption license.


Based upon the above Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, it is hereby:

ORDERED that the sale and consumption license application of Samuel Gamble d/b/a Casablanca II, be denied.



Ralph King Anderson, III

Administrative Law Judge

August 14, 2003

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






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