Pigeon Forge closer on restaurant beer
A week of work moved the proposal for on-site beer consumption in restaurants one hurdle away from passage in Pigeon Forge. The proposal was discussed at last Wednesday’s commission workshop before being voted through on first reading Monday night.
The amendment to the beer ordinance allows restaurants in Pigeon Forge to sell beer. The beer is for on-site consumption only, so to-go orders of brew will not be available. To apply for a permit, the restaurant must have a seating capacity of at least 75 persons, which matches Gatlinburg’s policy. Sevierville uses 150 persons but is expected to consider lowering there minimum to seventy-five to match their sister cities.
One of the concerns addressed by Mayor Ralph Chance regarded patio seating and tents that are sometimes put up to expand restaurant seating on busy weekends. Alcohol service will only be allowed inside the permanent building according to the change approved to the presented draft from counsel.
“We may have some people that are not happy about it being this way, but we have a lot of walking traffic and we need to limit the alcohol being outside,” said Chance.
The Special Events Office along with the Holiday Inn also asked the commission to consider allowing hotels to obtain special event permits. The limited time permits would allow for alcohol sales to large dinners, for groups and weddings. “We don’t want to use it as a selling point to groups, but it may attract some groups that have decided on other cities for their meetings because they couldn’t serve at dinner,” said Chance.
Dave Derwin, from the Holiday Inn, also asked the Commission to consider the implications to hotels with restaurants inside. “It will be very difficult on us, to tell a patron they can’t take a beer they just paid for up to their room to finish it,” said Derwin, “We would also have an issue if room service can’t serve as well.” Counsel was asked to address the issue in the revised draft distributed on Friday afternoon.
The price of the new permits is being raised from $250 a year to $500 a year. Retail alcohol permits will be able to operate under their existing permits, but will pay the new price when they renew.
In the recent growth years, Pigeon Forge has seen may restaurants pile up on its city limits with Sevierville. One contributing factor has been the ability to sell beer on the Sevierville side of the line.
The ordinance will have to be voted through on second reading at the July 28 meeting and will take affect fifteen days later on August 12.