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Grayson to decide liquor by the drink

LAWRENCEVILLE - Restaurants in Snellville and at The Avenue Webb Gin can do it.

Now voters in Grayson will decide if restaurants can sell liquor by the drink. Voters will also be deciding in the Nov. 7 election if mixed drinks will be allowed on Sundays.

Grayson Mayor Jim Hinkle said this is the first time a liquor-by-the-drink referendum has been on the ballot.

Hinkle said the City Council decided to put the referendum on the ballot after a petition to include it fell just a few names short.

Kelly Clark, the owner of Sydney's Steakhouse and Grille, said the petition circulated two years ago, after Snellville voters passed a liquor-by-the-drink referendum.

With The Avenue Webb Gin in unincorporated Gwinnett County, restaurants fewer than two miles away from Clark's restaurant can pour liquor.

If Grayson voters pass the referendum, Clark said the ability to pour mixed drinks could allow him to stay in business.

"A full-service bar is an option guests like to have," Clark said.

If the referendum fails, customers could choose to travel a few miles out of Grayson to find a restaurant that serves mixed drinks.

Clark said he is also concerned that voters will forgo the city election in favor of casting a ballot in the county elections. Clark said he wants to encourage Grayson's voters to participate in both elections.

Neither Clark nor Hinkle said they had heard of any organized opposition to the referendum.

Voters in Norcross will be faced with a referendum they've seen before. Restaurants have been able to pour mixed drinks since 2003, but sales have not been allowed on Sundays.

The City Council passed a resolution in September that calls for a vote on the sale of liquor by the drink at any time from Saturday at 11:55 p.m. until 2:55 a.m. on Sunday, and in eating establishments and inns between the hours of 12:30 p.m. and midnight on Sunday.

If Norcross voters choose to allow Sunday sales, only establishments that derive at least half of their sales from food will be able to pour on Sundays.

Stephanie Knight, an assistant manager at the Norcross Tavern, said liquor by the drink always increases sales above what beer and wine could do.

If restaurants could sell liquor by the drink on Sundays, Knight said, "Oh my gosh, that would be fantastic."