Lyerly, Ga., won't allow liquor-by-the-drink sales

Lyerly, Ga., won't allow liquor-by-the-drink sales

September 19th, 2011 By Jimmy Espy/Correspondent in News

Staff Photo by Allison Carter/Chattanooga Times Free Press - Mar 17, 2011 - Manuel Cano looks at liquor sold at a Georgia liquor store in this file photo.

Only months after becoming the only town in Chattooga County, Ga., to allow packaged liquor sales, Lyerly declined to lead the way in allowing liquor-by-the-drink.

A motion by Councilman Robert Thompson to put a liquor-by-the-drink referendum before voters on the November election ballot failed to receive a second.

Thompson's fellow council members, Ellen Wyatt and Holly Burrage, remained silent when Mayor Josh Wyatt asked if there was a second for Thompson's motion.

"It was not my intention to take the decision out of the hands of residents but my personal opinion is that it would be bad for the town," Burrage said. "I just don't think it's a good idea."

Ellen Wyatt agreed.

"Lyerly is a family community and it needs a family restaurant, not a bar," she said. "I am all for a family restaurant, and I think one could be successful here if it was managed properly."

The small town in western Chattooga County now has no restaurants.

At a council work session the previous week, Tushar "Tony" Patel, who operates T.J.'s Package Store, asked council members to put the referendum on the ballot, saying he was interested in opening a restaurant with "a separate bar area."

Georgia law requires any municipality or county that wants to sell liquor by the drink to get the approval of voters in a referendum. The Lyerly City Council could allow beer and wine sales by council vote, but indicated no interest in doing so.

After the council decision last week, Patel shelved the idea of a restaurant.

"The town was nice enough to give me the license for the liquor store, so I am not upset," he said.

Patel added that for a restaurant to be successful in a town the size of Lyerly it would need "something to bring people in from out of town."

Jimmy Espy is based in Dalton. Contact him at hoodcsa@aol.com.