Liquor by drink opens Sunday beer issue

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By MIKE WEST, Courier Editor

Passage of the liquor by the drink referendum in Cannon County could have a side-effect by allowing the sale of beer on Sundays.

The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission is authorized by law to extend the hours of sale (of beer) in the jurisdictions which have approved the sale of liquor by the drink by referendum, according to Keith Bell, TABC director.

Cannon County voters approved liquor by the drink during the Nov. 4 General Election. Voters could cast ballots for or against the legal sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises in Cannon County. The measure passed by a 62 vote margin.

Unlike laws dealing with the sale of beer (which are governed by the local beer board), liquor by the drink is governed by the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission and restaurants must meet several different criteria including actually serving meals on a regular basis. More than 50 percent of the gross revenue of the restaurant must be generated from serving meals.

Restaurants and their owners and servers also must undergo a licensing procedure before liquor sales can be allowed. In Cannon County, like other Tennessee counties and municipalities, the Beer Board governs the sale of beer.

Generally, the TABC considers such factors as the hours of sale is nearby counties and the need to compete with jurisdictions for convention and tourism business before extending the hours of beer sales.

Statewide the sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited between the hours of 3 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Monday through Saturday and between the hours of 3 a.m. and noon on Sundays, Bell said.

Cannon County currently does not permit the sale of beer on Sundays and the adoption of liquor by the drink could change that.

But Cannon County does have an option on the issue, Bell said.

"The governing body of any municipality or metropolitan government which has approved liquor by the drink by referendum may, at any time, opt out of any extension of hours adopted under this section by passage of a resolution. That would require a 2/3rds majority vote by the County Commission, he explained.

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