Monday, July 17, 2023–8:05 p.m.
-David Crowder, WRGA News-
The Rome Alcohol Control Commission once again discussed the city’s 50-50 food-to drink-ratio during their Monday meeting but stopped short of making any official recommendations to the full Rome City Commission.
Unless a variance is granted, establishments in the City of Rome that sell distilled spirits by the drink must also be a restaurant, selling at least as much food as liquor. Some on the ACC wonder if it is time for a change.
“I will say this is a bias of mine, from my training and educational background, I’m not sure so sure that food controls consumption,” said ACC chair Billy Cooper.
The ACC had Rome City Clerk Joe Smith conduct a study to see what the percentages were in other Georgia cities with similar demographics. Of the 14 cities surveyed, most require 50 percent food sales. Only one, Cartersville, requires less at 45 percent. Two cities, Calhoun and Brookhaven require 60 percent. Meanwhile, Marietta and Acworth have no food-to-drink requirements.
Rome City Commissioner Craig McDaniel told the ACC that the city commission would be open to changes, but cautioned against doing away with the food-to-drink ratio entirely.
“We tend to think of these issues in terms of Broad Street, but the ration really matters throughout the city,” he said. “On the one hand, I could build the case for the ration being a little extreme, but on the other hand, we’re going to get in a situation where we cannot control it. We have zero control over gaming machines and they’re everywhere. I think you’ll get into a situation where you have businesses that spring up not just on Broad Street but across the city that are just drinking establishments.”
McDaniel added he would be open to having a conversation about businesses that are categorized as being events venues, like Peaches on Broad Street, having a different ratio.
“It wouldn’t be 365 days a year, but on the weekends, if there are going to be performers there, I’d be open to doing that differently,” he said. However, it has to be structured in such a way that our law enforcement people can manage traffic control.”
Peaches remains open, owner to re-apply for liquor license
The discussion regarding the food-to-drink ratio began in May when the ACC recommended revoking the liquor license at Peaches. The owner, Stephanie Shaw, was at Monday’s meeting and she said that she does intend to reapply for her license after the required three months have passed, which would be in August. Shaw told the ACC that things have been difficult for her business since many people do not know that the establishment is still open. The food-to-drink ratio only applies to distilled spirits, so Peaches is still permitted to sell beer and wine.
She also told the board that she has partnered with Tiger and Bea’s BBQ, who is not operating the kitchen, and she presented sales figures showing that her food sales are up. Shaw also asked the ACC if it would be okay for Peaches to have a teen night as a way to help her make ends until she can get her liquor license back. Smith told Shaw that she could do that.
“The burden is on you to make sure all of the alcohol is inaccessible,” he said.
Shaw was also told it would be a good idea to make sure no one had been drinking before coming into Peaches and to keep in mind the 11 p.m. curfew in the City of Rome for anyone under the age of 17.