Resort status for city will allow for restaurants to sell wine and cocktails
A bill passed by the House and Senate and sent to the governor establishing qualified resort status for the city of Forest and other municipalities around the state could allow diners at restaurants within the city limits to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or a margarita for lunch by summer.
House Bill 572 which passed late in the session allows qualified restaurants to serve wine and mixed drinks, however, the mayor and board of aldermen will first have to pass an ordinance, similar to the beer ordinance, which:
• Specifies the hours of operation of facilities that offer alcoholic beverages for sale;
• Specifies the percentage of revenue that facilities that offer alcoholic beverages for sale must derive from the preparation, cooking and serving of meals and not from the sale of beverages; and
• Designate the areas in which facilities that offer alcoholic beverages for sale may be located.
A similar bill in the Senate, SB 2868 was amended by Senator Tyler McCaughn to include the city of Forest, and the House and Senate in conference committee settled on the final House version. The senator was unavailable for comment at press time Tuesday.
Forest Mayor Nancy Chambers said Tuesday at press time that she would rather not comment on the bill until after the board meeting later that night. Chambers did confirm the board had earlier voted unanimously to send a resolution to the Legislature urging them to approve resort status for Forest. The effective date is July 1, 2021.
Representative Tom Miles, who also wrote about the bill in his weekly column, said Monday that the bill does not allow package liquor stores in the city, which is a matter that would be left up to the citizens by referendum.
The city of Carthage is also awarded qualified resort status in HB 572 under the same guidelines as Forest.