Social Circle reduces fees for alcohol

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

SOCIAL CIRCLE -- Finding a place in Social Circle to have a glass of wine with dinner may have just gotten a little easier.

The Social Circle City Council unanimously approved Tuesday reducing the fees for one year for local businesses applying for a pouring license to sell beer, wine and distilled spirits.

Under the original fee structure, retailers selling packaged beer and wine, such as Freshway Market on Ga. Highway 11, would pay an annual license fee of $500 and a $2,500 performance bond.

An $800 pouring license fee with a $1,000 performance bond was required for businesses to sell beer, or malt beverages, and wine. Those establishments that wished to sell beer, wine and liquor needed to pay an annual pouring license fee of $2,500 with a $2,500 performance bond.

Mayor Jim Burgess brought the matter before the council, saying he was concerned that the original fee structure was too steep and was keeping local restaurants from applying to sell alcoholic beverages.

City Manager Doug White pointed out that a local Mexican restaurant, Los Gallos II on South Cherokee Road, failed to renew its alcoholic beverages license this year due to the cost.

Councilman David Keener made the motion that the city reduce, for one year, the pouring license fees. Now, restaurants that sell beer and wine must pay a license fee of $500 with a $1,000 performance bond; those selling beer, wine and distilled beverages must pay a $500 pouring fee along with a $2,500 performance bond.

"All other provisions in our ordinance would remain the same," Keener said.

After the vote, the mayor voiced his approval for the measure.

"You get the whole shootin' match for $500. That's a good deal," he said.

Tom and Angela McGarity, owners of Buckeye's located on Cherokee Road, attended Tuesday's meeting and had an application for beer and wine sales pending before the council.

As a result of the change in fee structure, they modified their petition to sell beer, wine and liquor at their restaurant. So that they would not have to wait another 30 days for approval, the City Council agreed to grant Buckeye's its license contingent upon successful completion of the amended request.

Angela McGarity said Wednesday she was optimistic the ability to sell alcoholic beverages will help boost business, but she still faces some hurdles. For instance, she said, she still has to receive a license from the state, which could take some time.

Also, there are associated costs that will need to be considered, such as additional personnel costs and possibly increasing operating hours.

Buckeye's, which serves Southern-style cooking, is open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 6 to 11:30 a.m. Saturdays. The restaurant is also open from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

In the meantime, the McGaritys plan to move forward on plans to enclose the outdoor patio area so that it can be used year-round.

"I will probably put the bar out there," Angela McGarity said. "I would like to keep the bar atmosphere separate from the restaurant.

"There's a lot to learn," she said. "I'm new at this, but I think this could be a good thing. We'll give it a shot for a year or two."