The Duluth Alcohol Review Board has recommended that the city council allow residents and visitors to consume alcoholic beverages purchased from downtown restaurants in the “red zone” all year long. Currently the city’s alcoholic beverage ordinance limits this practice to city-sponsored alcohol-sanctioned events, such as concerts, or about a dozen times a year.
The Duluth City Council changed the ordinance in October 2010 to provide for issuance of special event patio sales permits to restaurants in the two-block red zone that had licenses to sell alcoholic beverages. The permits allow patrons of these restaurants to leave with alcoholic beverages purchased there for consumption in the designated zone, which includes the Town Green, during these events.
Patrons of Park Cafe and Steverino’s, whose patios abut the Town Green, were already allowed to do this during the special events. This opportunity was extended to Chocolate Perks and future restaurants, such as Pure Taqueria, with the previous change in the ordinance.
Hours for sales of alcoholic beverages set by the state apply.
That change allows patrons of these restaurants to stroll along the streets, window shop and visit stores in the zone while the special events are occurring. Merchants who don’t want customers to come into their shops with alcoholic beverages can post notices.
Consumption of alcoholic beverages is not allowed in Taylor Park, which has a children’s playground. The park is located next to the Town Green.
The vote was 4-1 with ARB member Rod Parris voting against recommending the change. Board member Terry Swain was absent from the April 10 meeting at which the vote occurred.
The change would enhance city efforts to attract more visitors, restaurants, and entertainment venues downtown.
Lynn said the item was placed on the ARB agenda following a review by city staff and police officials of the alcohol law change put into effect in 2010. Few problems have been reported. Alpharetta also recently expanded its days downtown for a similar practice, she said.
The ARB also recommended removal of the seating requirement for restaurants in the ordinance. In order to sell alcoholic beverages, a restaurant in Duluth presently has to have a minimum of 50 seats. A restaurant with a beer and wine license outside downtown reportedly was unable to have its grand opening last weekend because it didn’t meet the seating requirement. The removal of the seating requirement would apply citywide.
The Alcohol Review Board’s recommendations are expected to be discussed by the city council at its next work session April 23.
The ARB agenda included a discussion on term limits with board members suggesting two-year terms with a limit of six years. City staff is surveying boards and commissions in an attempt to come up with a uniform system, Lynn said.