The owners of Full Throttle Bar & Grill in Old Hickory were forced to close July 19 for violations of Metro Nashville’s emergency health order 9 amendment 1 related to COVID-19 mandates.
Becca and Gary McIntosh said they opened the establishment at 333 Swinging Bridge Road on Oct. 28, 2019, and it’s classified as a “limited-service” restaurant.
In a statement from Metro Health Department, because Full Throttle is classified as limited service, it is ordered to remain closed for dine-in until July 31 at 11:59 p.m. The order was part of the government’s modified phase 2 COVID-19 plan for limited-service restaurants. Limited service means more alcohol is served than food in less than a 50% ratio, said Becca McIntosh.
“…Since order 9 was signed, the Metro Public Health Department has visited several establishments in violation of the order, ” Metro Health Department officials said in a statement. “All previous visits resulted in compliance of the order, instituted to protect the health of the community of Nashville. While citations are used to encourage compliance, the goal in every action taken by the Metro Public Health Department is the health of the citizens of Nashville.”
According to Becca McIntosh, the Friday prior to Sunday’s visit from officials, her husband told Environmental Health Specialists he would not close his business.
“So, Metro Public Health officials petitioned the judge for an order of closure,” said Gary McIntosh. “They came out here that Sunday with eight police cars and a Metro lawyer and a health department person. They threatened to padlock my business and put notices on the windows.”
The couple said they were threatened with five days in jail and/or a “10,000 fine. They were also ordered to go before a Nashville judge last Wednesday where Gary McIntosh didn’t actually go before the judge put rather “came to an agreement” at the courthouse and said he would comply.
However, the couple who married at Full Throttle, said they are thinking about taking legal action against Metro for loss of money due to orders of food that went to waste.
Becca McIntosh said for many months prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were trying to grow their food service. They are near the Rayon City area of Old Hickory where there aren’t many places that serve lunch for nearby residents, she said.
“We were just now really getting repeat lunch customers,” she said. “In fact, when they came in that Sunday and forced us to close, we had eight food sales and seven of them were lunches with soda.”
She said before the last closure, they averaged about 38%-45% food sales verses alcohol.
Because of COVID-19 mandates, the McIntoshes closed down on St. Patrick’s Day in March prior to officially told to close by the health inspector. Their doors were closed for two and a half months because in phase 1 reopening mandates, they could only have 25% capacity, and they said that was counter-productive with revenue.
They reopened May 27 and stayed open.
“We were never notified from anyone about the rules of modified phase 2 mandates,” Gary McIntosh said. “We kept the tables spread out and were sanitizing and our servers, and employees were wearing masks and gloves. No one sat at the bar. We thought we were complying.”
He said they felt they did not violate any health codes and had taken the same precautions as major chain restaurants that were allowed to reopen.
Becca McIntosh said to exacerbate their loss of business with their classification, they could not have curbside service.
Prior to Sunday’s in-person visits from officials and the demand to shut down right then, the Friday prior, Gary McIntosh told two representatives from the Metro Beer Board he would not close.
“I felt like they are bullying me around,” said Gary McIntosh. “I’m a hard-headed person, and for them to demand me shut down, I just told them no.”
Gary McIntosh said he does not regret staying open when told to shut down until July 31. He said he might pursue a lawsuit with a few other local establishments participating in it, as well.
“I think what they did to me is against my constitutional rights,” he said. “To shut my business down and keep me from having a business – this is not a law; it’s a mandate.”
Becca McIntosh said they had to throw away so much food because of the shutdown, and their last food order was given to the local Nashville Fire Department. The couple said Full Throttle is the largest biker bar and grill in the greater Nashville area, and they were marketing it as an iconic place.
“These closures greatly impacted us,” said Becca McIntosh. “We are a small business with employees and musicians we employ. We are all hard working and want to open the doors.”
She said there are between 10-15 regular employees, and they provide live entertainment five days a week.
Gary McIntosh said the only reason he complied after going to court was “to keep from going to jail.”
He said this is just the start of him “standing up for his rights and fighting with all I got.”
Their Facebook page video post of authorities on the premises mandating he shut the bar and grill down has gone viral with 1.2 million views, according to the McIntoshes.
They live in Hermitage and opened the business for their daughter to take over some day.