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Statham to vote on liquor by the drink

STATHAM - For the first time in the city's history, Statham residents will vote on whether to allow restaurants to serve liquor by the drink in a November referendum.

Gayle Steed, the city's vice mayor, said members of council had discussed the possibility of a referendum for a number of years, but Statham's recent growth had spurred its movement onto the ballot.

"We're hoping to attract restaurants and things like that into the area," Steed said. "People keep hollering for them and wanting to have stuff right close by them."

The Nov. 8 referendum will ask residents if they think the city should be able to "issue licenses to sell distilled spirits" to be sold by the drink.

Statham has four restaurants, Steed said - Sunflower Cafe, the Old House Restaurant, Tacos and a Subway - but wants to attract larger sit-down fare along the lines of a Chili's, Applebee's, or even an Outback. Hotels looking to locate in the area would be more likely to come if they could sell liquor as well, she said.

City Council already voted not to allow the sales on Sundays, so voters will choose if the licenses would be available for Monday through Saturday sales only.

If the measure does not pass, Steed said, she anticipates seeing it on the ballot again in the future.

"I think it's a positive thing," she said. "It will attract things that people are asking for. I'm not sure that everyone understands that most larger restaurants make most of their money on alcohol."

The proximity of The Georgia Club to the area and the promise of sewer coming will make Statham more desirable for restaurants, Steed said, giving residents more options than to travel to Winder and Athens.