Alcohol legislation in 2-state region poses close calls for struggling bar owners

Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 11:31 PM EST
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Closing time just got a little later, because starting tonight, South Carolina bars will be able to sell alcohol after 11 p.m. for the first time since July.

The word spread quickly that Governor Henry McMaster would lift his last call order.

“I get emotional about it because of my employees... You know, everyone’s worked for me for years.”

For many bar owners, the pandemic nearly broke them. And they say the governor’s last-call rule didn’t help, especially for bars so close to Georgia.

“Well, once we were given the 11 p.m. Curfew we didn’t get any of the Augusta traffic coming in here to the Highlander,” said Randy Hood, co-owner of the pub in North Augusta.

But now, they are breathing a sigh of relief after learning they can stay open past 11 p.m.

“I think we’ll feel it on Wednesday night with our open mic. We’ve got karaoke on Thursday and Saturday night, and a live band on Friday night. That’s when I know that 2 o’clock extension will be felt,” Hood said.

But they know aren’t out of the woods yet.

“Being safe is paramount to everything. To everything, to our success,” Robbie Prueitt, owner of Aiken Brewing said.

For bar owners in the Palmetto state, lifting this order means a lot for them. And now legislation in Georgia could help bars and restaurants on this side of the river too.

The Senate is about to vote on a bill that allows bars and restaurants to send people home with to-go cocktails.

They’re hoping the profit margins on alcohol sales could help businesses in our Georgia counties keep afloat during the pandemic.

“I don’t know man, it’s been tough. It’s been tough but we’ll be fine. Everybody will be fine. Gotta stay positive,” Prueitt said.

If the Georgia bill passes, restaurants would have to sell mixed drinks in sealed containers, and customers would need to keep it in their glove compartment, trunk, or behind their seats until they get home.

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