GRAYSON - Grayson restaurants will soon be able to serve liquor by the drink, after a referendum allowing such sales unofficially passed 187 to 87, Grayson Mayor Jim Hinkle said.
Sunday sales will be allowed as well, with that referendum unofficially passing 176 to 98, Hinkle said.
"The citizens have definitely spoken," Hinkle said. "It had a lot of support. It's a step forward for Grayson."
Kelly Clark, the owner of Sydney's Steakhouse and Grille, said his "fears are abated a little bit" that restaurant patrons will bypass his establishment to eat at restaurants in Snellville or at The Avenue Webb Ginn.
Restaurants in Snellville and at the new shopping center in unincorporated Gwinnett County are allowed to pour liquor, and their proximity to his restaurant had worried Clark.
"I'm very happy for us, and I'm very happy for the community," Clark said. "There's a lot of potential growth here. ... It's been a long time coming."
The referendum appeared for the first time on Grayson's ballot this year after some Grayson residents signed a petition to put the issue to a vote. Although the petition fell a few names short of the amount the City Council required, Hinkle said the petition showed there was enough support to include the referendums on the ballot.
The City Council will have to draft an ordinance to allow the sales before restaurants can apply for licenses to pour liquor. Hinkle said the ordinance might be drafted in time for the council's December meeting.
In Norcross, Sunday sales of liquor by the drink unofficially passed 503 to 311, Norcross City Clerk Susan Brooks said.
Restaurants have been able to pour liquor since 2003, but sales have been prohibited on Sundays.
The City Council passed a resolution in September that called for a vote on the sale of liquor by the drink at any time from Saturday at 11:55 p.m. to 2:55 a.m. on Sunday and in eating establishments and inns between the hours of 12:30 p.m. and midnight on Sunday.
Only establishments that derive at least half of their sales from food will be eligible to pour on Sundays.
Norcross City Councilman David McLeroy, who was re-elected Tuesday, said there are only two restaurants in downtown Norcross - Dominick's Italian Restaurant and Paizanos - that will likely be affected because they are open Sundays.
"I know they really wanted it," McLeroy said.