LaFayette hammers out beer ordinance

LaFayette hammers out beer ordinance

July 11th, 2010 by Andy Johns in News

LaFayette, Ga., restaurant owners should be able to start applying for pouring permits this week after council members hammer out the details of a new ordinance allowing beer and wine sales.

"As soon as I get my license, I'm going to start. I'm ready," said Miguel Santiago, owner of Yan Yesica and Yaniria Mexican Restaurant.

The City Council voted June 14 to allow the sale of beer and wine at restaurants, which Mayor Neal Florence said was unavoidable.

"It's probably a process that's inevitable if you want to give businesses the opportunity for more growth," the mayor said.

Opponents of the ordinance say they aren't angry, but they disagree with the decision.

"I'm not going to boycott any place," said Dr. Todd Gaddis, pastor at LaFayette First Baptist. "I'll just be there with my tea and Dr Pepper."

Mr. Florence called the ordinance a compromise.

A referendum to allow liquor sales in the city limits came a handful of votes short of passing in November. He said allowing alcohol sales could help current restaurants grow and might bring in larger chains or hotels.

Mr. Santiago said he's not sure whether he will sell beer on tap or in bottles but is looking forward to a boost in business.

But not everyone is as excited.

Clay Martin, the owner of C.J.'s Southern Tradition restaurant, said he's not sure whether he will serve alcohol. His business sits "like the stuffing in an Oreo" between a church and a recreation center, which would prohibit him from serving under some ordinances.

Even if the ordinance allows it, he still may not apply for a permit.

"For the food that I serve, the beer and wine would not fit," he said.

Councilman Wayne Swanson, the lone dissenting vote against the ordinance, said he doesn't see beer sales helping revenues for the city or restaurants. For him it came down to a moral issue.

When coming into City Hall for council meetings, "you can't set God outside the building and then pick him up on the way out," he said.

He said he'd heard from about 60 people after the vote and all but two thanked him for his decision.

Dr. Gaddis also doubts that allowing beer will cause O'Charley's or Applebee's to rush into LaFayette. There's not enough people, traffic or money to bring such large chains to town, he said.

"I'm saying that isn't going to happen," he said. "It's not an alcohol issue, it's a demographics issue."

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