Duluth OKs change to alcohol law

Photo by Kristen Ralph

Photo by Kristen Ralph

DULUTH -- Duluth residents and visitors now will be allowed to consume beer and wine purchased from more restaurants in the historic downtown district during city-sponsored alcohol-sanctioned celebrations on the Town Green.

The Duluth City Council on Monday approved a change to the city's alcoholic beverage ordinance that allows the issuance of special event patio sales permits to downtown restaurants that have licenses to sell beer and wine.

The patio sales licenses will allow restaurants to serve beer and wine and allow their patrons to leave the restaurants with it for consumption in a two-block downtown area during special events, such as concerts.

Presently, patrons of the Park Cafe and Steverino's that abut the Town Green already may purchase beer and wine and take it onto the Town Green during these special events.

The change will include patrons of Chocolate Perks located across Main Street from the Town Green and future restaurants locating in the designated area downtown.

Patrons of these restaurants also may stroll along the streets, window shop and visit shops in the designated area with their beer and wine. Shopowners who don't want alcoholic beverages in their stores can put up notices.

For safety reasons, the area will be barricaded, and Duluth police will monitor the drinking.

"This is a good tool," Councilman Doug Mundrick said. "It will help our economic development and help us attract additional restaurants downtown."

The council considered requiring special cups for the beer and wine carried off-premises, but rejected the idea as difficult to enforce since attendees are allowed to bring their own beer and wine to some events.

City Attorney Lee Thompson said that the council approves a list of city-sponsored events and determines the events where alcoholic beverages can be consumed at the start of each year. That list also can be changed during the year if the council decides to do so, he said.

The ordinance change will apply to only about eight to 12 special events a year, according to Councilman Greg Whitlock. Alcoholic beverages are not allowed in Taylor Park next to the Town Green, he said.

The vote on amending the ordinance was 3-0. Councilman Billy Jones was absent from the meeting, and Councilman Marsha Bomar abstained because she owns Chocolate Perks.

Since the change is effective immediately, the next event probably affected will be the city's New Year's Eve celebration Dec. 31 on the Town Green.

The council tabled entering into an intergovernmental agreement with the Duluth Downtown Development Authority to negotiate the sale or lease of property at the end of the Red Clay Theatre for a Pure Taqueria.

Council members asked for more information about the size and height of the proposed restaurant and its impact on the view of the city's downtown from Ga. Highway 120 and Buford Highway and expressed other concerns. The Pure Taqueria is expected to attract 550 diners a day.