GREENVILLE — A city in the Mississippi Delta will wait a while before possibly letting people walk out of bars and restaurants with alcohol in to-go cups.
A state law that took effect July 1 says any city can create a district allowing carry-out drinks, but each city must set its own rules.
Most of the people speaking at a public meeting in Greenville last week favored creation of a “leisure and recreation district” downtown, away from residential areas, the Delta Democrat-Times reported. Some expressed concerns about how rules would be enforced.
Daniel Boggs, chief executive officer for Greater Greenville Housing and Revitalization Association, said proposed rules would only allow one cup per person, with a maximum serving size of 16 ounces. Carrying alcohol in non-designated cups would be prohibited.
Mayor Errick D. Simmons said the city council will vote sometime later on whether to approve an ordinance that would set boundaries for where people could go with drinks in hand.
“What I think we need to do, one, is address the enforcement issue, so we want to have another meeting,” Simmons said. “We want to talk about the area, whether the area’s too large, too small, whether it needs to be one street. These are things we heard.”
Doug Haywood, who owns the Level 129 Bar & Grill in downtown Greenville, said he’s concerned there may not be enough police officers to enforce the rules.
“The minute we put this into effect, we are going to have some people that are going to try and get over on the system,” Haywood said. “They will run you out of business just by standing outside. It’s easy to sit back and look at Beale Street and Bourbon Street, but we’re talking Greenville.”
Simmons agreed that is a valid concern.
Bill Boykin, who owns buildings that house Downtown Grille and Mighty Mississippi Brewing Company, said he supports the ordinance, but understands Haywood’s fear.
“There’s not a law in this world that people don’t try to circumvent,” Boykin said. “They’re going to save that cup and use it again next week. You’re just going to have that.”
If the go-cup rules were to pass, patrons at the Downtown Grille could use an outdoor, fenced-in dining area to drink, which they are currently unable to do because it violates the open container laws, Boykin said.
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