Carroll restaurant owners protest liquor restrictions

August 19, 1994|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Sun Staff Writer

Some Carroll County restaurant owners have banded together to fight a proposed amendment to the county's liquor regulations, which would impose additional restrictions on when restaurants can serve alcohol.

Under the proposal, restaurants in Carroll County could begin serving alcohol one hour before meals are available and must stop serving liquor an hour after the kitchen closes.

In a letter to the Board of License Commissioners, restaurant owners Monday said the proposed regulation would drive away late diners who might linger over a bottle of wine and customers who stop by for dessert and after-dinner drinks.

"We strongly believe that to limit the sale of alcohol to one hour after we close the kitchen would greatly limit our ability to service our customers cordially and properly," the letter states.

Bob Lowry, owner of Cockey's Tavern in Westminster, wrote the letter. He said the position he outlined is shared by owners of other local restaurants.

The restaurants include: Maggie's, The Westminster Inn, Champs, The Cove, Maria's, Cal Bitner's, E.W. Beck's, The Bachman Valley Inn, Bradley's Fox Briar Inn, Lido's Pizza, the Sunset Lounge and Dean's Restaurant.

The liquor board proposed the amendment to Carroll County's liquor regulations after learning that at least one county restaurant was serving breakfast as its required weekend meal and serving alcohol until 1 a.m., said James Norvell, administrator for the county liquor board.

Under county liquor regulations, restaurants must serve at least two meals a day during the week in order to serve alcohol. On weekends, the restaurants must serve at least one meal each day to legally serve alcohol.

Although the restaurant that served breakfast as its weekend meal was technically in compliance with the liquor laws, the liquor board said it violated the intent of the regulation.

Mr. Norvell said the liquor board proposed new restrictions to ensure that restaurants operate as restaurants, not bars.

Restaurant owners say they share the liquor board's concerns.

"We agree that the law was being taken advantage of but . . . [the proposed regulation] is doing a disservice to customers in the community," Mr. Lowry said.

As an alternative to the liquor board's proposal, the restaurant owners suggest in their letter that restaurants be required to serve dinner on weekends in order to sell alcohol until 1 a.m. If a restaurant serves lunch as its last meal, then it would have to stop serving alcohol when lunch ends.

"We want to have some input in their [the liquor board's] decision and assist them in solving problems that come up," Mr. Lowry said.

The board may hold another hearing before deciding on the amendment, Mr. Norvell said.

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