Fear not, thrifty Atlanta boozers, BYOB is safe in the ATL.
That’s the news Mayor Kasim Reed and Councilman Alex Wan want the local restaurant scene to know following what they say are erroneous reports that the city is stepping up enforcement of historic liquor licensing laws and cracking down on bring-your-own-bottle policies.
At issue are two alcohol licenses required by the city of Atlanta: an on-premise consumption license, which allows restaurants to sell booze, and a rarely-enforced “bottle house” license, which some restaurants must have to allow patrons to bring their own alcohol.
Confusion over these laws partly began in recent weeks with an email blast from the Georgia Restaurant Association, which informed its members in April that restaurants selling alcohol must also have a bottle house license to permit BYOB.
The same email said the city is stepping up enforcement of restaurants without the bottle house license, opening members up to hefty fines.
Not so, city officials say. Restaurants with an on-premise consumption license don’t need a bottle house license to allow customers to bring their own six-pack.
Those that aren’t licensed to sell booze, however, are legally required to have a so-called bottle house license should they want to allow BYOB. A bottle house license costs $2,000 annually.
“You need one or the other. You don’t need both,” explained Reed spokesman Carlos Campos.
He believes the rumor began after a local restaurant received a citation this year when workers were unable to produce evidence of any liquor license.
“One restaurant cited? That does not a crackdown make,” he said.
GRA spokeswoman Rachel Bell said the organization is “delighted” to learn the city isn’t breaking bad on BYOB.
“According to the mayor, there won’t be added enforcement,” she said. “We hope that’s the case.”
Wan, whose district includes Midtown, is behind legislation to clarify the bottle house laws to this effect, he said. His bill is now under consideration by the city council.