By Michelle Price
Special to the UCBJ
ALGOOD – A campaign led by the Algood Citizens for Progress successfully saw liquor by the drink pass Tuesday with 64% of the vote.
The ballot measure passed with 1,209 votes for and 677 against.
Algood Liquor by the Drink Committee Member Tiffany Anton said this wasn’t just a liquor issue, but an economic development issue.
“The fact that we can bring more restaurants in will allow not only our (Algood’s) tax dollars to stay here, but we will also have the opportunity to bring other tax dollars and taxable revenue in,” said Anton. “It wasn’t really about bars or even alcohol, it was about bringing a variety of restaurants to Algood.”
Anton mentioned that Algood’s current restaurants were also excited about liquor by the drink.
“We have Pueblo Viejo, and if they didn’t go apply for their liquor license today, I’d be shocked,” Anton joked.
Diners in Algood will have to wait a little longer to order that margarita though. According to Algood City Manager Keith Morrison, it will be near the end of January before businesses can apply for their license to serve liquor.
There are several steps that the town must follow before they can start issuing those licenses. First, the town has to receive certified election results saying that the measure passed.
The town must then pass two separate ordinances, one accepting the results, approving liquor-by-the-drink sales and setting its regulations, and the second amending the town’s zoning ordinance to designate where those sales are allowed.
“We are going to try to make sure the focus of this is bringing more variety in restaurants and more opportunity in restaurants; that liquor by the drink is no more than 20-30% of their sales,” said Morrison. “We don’t want that to be the primary focus of the business.”
It will take at least two months to pass the required ordinances, and Morrison anticipates the town will begin issuing licenses around the end of January 2021.
There has been some confusion among people calling the town about licenses. The referendum passed does not allow liquor stores or the sale of wine in grocery stores.
Morrison said the referendum was intended to attract a nice sit-down type of restaurant and added, “I think this allows us the opportunity to recruit those.”
Algood’s location along busy Highway 111 makes it the perfect location for north-south travelers who want to stop off for a quick meal without having to veer from their route.
Anton is excited about the potential growth of the town and how the referendum would benefit the town financially.
“We are looking at putting a park in, like a Dogwood Park, behind Walmart,” she said. “Hopefully, people will come into Algood for the park, stay for some restaurants and bring some taxable dollars in.”
Anton added, “I just want to say that I appreciate that people knew the issue and didn’t just focus on the fact that ‘alcohol is bad’ and the moral issue of it and realized it’s just restaurants, and that it’s much more economic development than people being able to drink alcohol.”