OUR VIEW: Cities exploring new alcohol laws to boost downtowns

Local governments facing difficult economic times are saying cheers to letting alcohol help boost business. The most publicized was Snellville’s recent vote to allow Sunday liquor by the drink sales, but other Gwinnett cities are also exploring options to relax liquor laws and promote business in their downtown areas.

In Duluth, officials are considering allowing people to carry drinks on the town square in plastic cups. The proposal would allow people to carry plastic cups filled with mixed drinks, beer or wine on the Town Green after 5 p.m. on weekdays and after noon on weekends until 30 minutes after the last restaurant closes.

The idea is to keep patrons in the downtown area after eating, encouraging them to window shop and congregate after dinner.

“It would hopefully bring in more revenue, but the bigger picture is to create a place people would like to go and attract more businesses downtown,” Duluth City Administrator Phil McLemore said.

Grayson has already voted to allow a beer festival in the city. Tickets for the Grayson Blues and Brews Craft Beer Festival, to be held Sept. 25, go on sale today. That festival has caught the attention of nearby Snellville, which is considering a plan of its own to allow drinking in confined areas at public events, such as concerts, on its town green.

Snellville Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer called Grayson’s decision “a wake-up call” for his city. “I think the cities now are competing for that entertainment factor,” he said.

And that competition is literally leading the cities to drink.