Downtown Mall bar and restaurant owners celebrate “Outdoor Refreshment Area” bill

Downtown Mall bar and restaurant owners celebrate “Outdoor Refreshment Area” bill
Bottles on display behind a bar on Charlottesville's Downtown Mall. (Source: WVIR)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Bar and restaurant owners on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall are celebrating the passage of a new bill clearing the way for more open liquor areas.

S.B. 1471 would allow localities to create their own “outdoor refreshment areas,” where people could carry and drink alcohol outside a restaurant or patio. Currently, the law only allows localities to do so for special events, and only up to a maximum of 16 times a year. The new bill would allow localities to pass an ordinance allowing that area to operate year-round.

The Downtown Business Association of Charlottesville wrote a letter in support of the bill, with the backing of entrepreneurs like Rapture owner Michael Rodi and The Whiskey Jar Owner Wilson Richey. Richey says many restaurants and bars on the mall have pushed for similar measures for years.

“We’ve all been working together like I’ve never seen businesses work together to figure out the best way to really, really, you know, make that the downtown area shine,” Richey explained. “This is at the top of the list.”

If the bill is signed by Governor Ralph Northam, Charlottesville will still have to designate the contours of the specific zone that would become the new outdoor refreshment area.

Copyright 2021 WVIR. All rights reserved.