Facing possible city action, raided restaurant closing in Augusta

Southbound Smokehouse in Augusta could face trouble after a raid by Richmond County Sheriff's...
Southbound Smokehouse in Augusta could face trouble after a raid by Richmond County Sheriff's Office deputies.(WRDW)
Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 2:04 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The owners of a raided Augusta restaurant will close it after the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office sought punishment following a raid by deputies a couple of weeks ago on suspicion it was serving alcohol to minors and operating as an unlicensed dance club.

The raid happened around 12:20 a.m. June 11 at the Southbound Smokehouse at 1855 Central Ave. In the undercover operation, investigators observed the tables being moved to open up a dance floor with a DJ playing music. Investigators said they identified 10 minors who consumed alcohol in the business and one with a fake ID.

On the Augusta Commission agenda for Thursday, city leaders were set to consider probation, suspension or revocation of the alcohol and business license for Southbound for “failure to comply with the alcohol ordinance, dance ordinance and occupation tax ordinance.”

But the restaurant owners said Wednesday the business would not reopen.

The owners said in a statement Wednesday:

It was 6 years ago this week, that we opened our doors at Southbound in hopes of giving our hometown of Augusta a local place to hang out and enjoy good food and good music. Our patrons, staff, musicians, and family have given us some of the best years of our lives and we are so very thankful for their constant support.

Unfortunately, recent events have portrayed our beloved business in a negative light. We have always attempted to operate our restaurant in compliance with local codes and ordinances and we’ll always continue to do so. We love Augusta and we have worked tirelessly for decades to bring culture, diversity, and events to the area to revitalize the community with great success and look forward to continuing this in the future.

Today, we regrettably announce that our Augusta location will not reopen. We are excited about the opportunity to focus our efforts on opening an Evans location in the near future. In the meantime, please go support our sister location Southbound in North Augusta and our brand new raw bar Drift located at SRP Park.

The sheriff’s agency had written a letter to city officials seeking punishment for the restaurant:

The agency said over the past several months, it has received complaints in reference to noise complaints and underage drinking at Southbound Smokehouse.

The alcohol license and the business license can be suspended, revoked or placed on probation pursuant to the following violations and codes:

  • Operating as a bar/nightclub; the business is classified as a restaurant; the property is not zoned to allow a bar/nightclub use.
  • Furnishing alcoholic beverage to people under 21 years of age.
  • Operating a dance hall without commission approval.

After the raid, the sheriff’s agency said: “The inside of the restaurant was extremely crowded with people standing or dancing, the lights were low and a disco ball was observed lighting the dance floor.” Investigators saw no one inside sitting or eating any food.

Investigators advised the on-duty manager that he was operating a night club without a license and at that time people were asked to leave.

The manager, Sloan Baughman, was cited for not having a dance hall license and furnishing alcohol to people under 21.


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