DULUTH -- Many city restaurants have experienced a lot of business over the last six months in Duluth.
On some days, customers have waits that can last longer than an hour as the business is packed.
However, due to the current alcohol ordinance for restaurants, patrons cannot buy an alcoholic drink inside the establishment and take it outside the walls of the business unless it is a designated red zone area during city sanctioned events.
This means, businesses lose out on money patrons could spend while waiting.
However, at Monday's Duluth City Council work session, the issue was brought up for consideration by the council in which it was suggested to allow for consumption of alcohol during the hours of operations a business is open and allowed to sell. This would open up the "red zone" from city-sanctioned events to 365 days.
"I think it's a good thing to allow people to step out on the sidewalk to have a drink when they're waiting to get a table," councilman Billy Jones said. "This helps increase business."
With most of the council agreeing that it could be a good thing, various safety issues and other concerns were brought up.
In the end, the council agreed that they weren't interested in expanding the "red zone" for 365 days, but would look at allowing alcoholic beverages to be taken just outside the doors of a restaurant, while customers wait.
The council requested the city clerk provide a list of all restaurants with a consumption of alcohol license so that they (and the alcohol board) could come up with a solution on exactly how the ordinance could be amended, i.e. how far away from the building an alcoholic beverage can be.
"It's a smart decision to look at this further," Jones said. "Having it go back to the alcohol review board is good as well."
Other items discussed at the work session include:
-- The current restaurant definition in the alcohol ordinance included having a seating capacity of at least 50 people. The alcohol board requested that it be struck from ordinance, as restrictions already in place would prevent a bar from opening up. Because of the 50-person rule, city clerk Teresa Lynn said that one food business was kept from opening on Peachtree-Industrial Boulevard, while another is waiting on a ruling.
-- There will be a sidewalk addition on Howell Meadow Drive as it was not included with the Georgia Department of Transportation project on the Duluth Sidewalk Loop due to it not being within the project limits. The city council gave the go ahead to place an item on next month's city council meeting agenda that will approve $70,000 of the $500,000 allocated to the Western Gwinnett Bikeway Phase II, to be used to build the sidewalk. The Western Gwinnett Bikeway Phase II is going to cost the city $325,000 of the $500,000, giving a buffer to allow for the rest of the money to be used for other projects. "It's really a no-brainer and the right thing to do," said councilman Kelly Kelkenberg.