New Year's parties shut down by Blue Laws

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December 29, 2006

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Some New Year's parties are over before they started for some local bars. That's because this year's celebration falls on a Sunday, when Blue Laws keep places that serve mostly alcohol closed.

Bars across the area might be a little quieter this New Year's Eve. That's because many of the normal hotspots won t be open for business. The law doesn't change just because it's New Year's Eve.

Both state and local laws keep bars and lounges shut down on Sundays. That s why Jonathan Vick, owner of Last Call, has a backup plan: a pre-New Year party.

"We're looking forward to it," he said. "A little nervous with it not being on New Year's night, but we'll see."

He says their bash will be exactly the same as normal, with DJs, drink specials, and a balloon drop. The only difference is, it's on Saturday.

But it's a different story for Adam Wise, promotions manager for Somewhere in Augusta. Their celebration is on Sunday, as scheduled.

"It's so busy, it's so wild, everyone's got noisemakers and horns," Wise said.

Most of his tables are already booked. There will be more people since half of the city's party circuit will be closed.

The determining factor all comes down to numbers.

If an establishment's revenue comes fifty percent from food and alcohol, they can stay open for New Year's. But if that ratio changes and they get more money from alcohol than food, they have to close.

Robert Sherman, director of Augusta's license and inspection office, says if anyone breaks the rules, they could face a $500 fine...or worse.

"I can't imagine someone would do it, but we'd probably ask they revoke their license," he said.

Restaurants can pour all they want...but others like Jonathan have to ring in the New Year a little early.

"This year is kind of an enigma," he said, "because in the past, New Year's has never really fallen on a Sunday."

It may affect your party schedule, but it also affects the bottom line. Bars bring in a couple thousand on an average night, and that number usually goes way up on New Year's Eve. Business owners are hoping Saturday night parties will bring in the same amount as normal.