Brookhaven budgets $300K to reimburse alcohol license fees for restaurants, bars

Brookhaven greenlit $300,000 worth of grants to assist restaurants and bars that pay for their annual alcohol license renewal this year.

The city and its chamber of commerce will issue grants up to $5,000 to any eligible business that pays alcohol fees. The grants, which were approved last week, will be funded from the city’s $9.5 million reserve fund.

“Since they’ve already paid the liquor license fee, they can use the grant for whatever purpose they want,” Alan Goodman, president of the Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce, said.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic entered Georgia, roughly 20% of Brookhaven’s bars and restaurants have permanently closed, Goodman said.

The city received $6.3 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds, but most of it was put toward other efforts, such as rent and utility relief programs. The funds have to be used by Dec. 10, or else they return to DeKalb County.

“We didn’t want to get ourselves into a quandary with (the deadline), so the city decided to take the money out of the reserve fund, so we could use it for the grants,” Goodman said.

He estimates that 40 to 60 restaurants and bars will be eligible for the grant program. Goodman said that a business would have to plan to remain open for at least 180 days to qualify, but the other criteria for grant eligibility is still being determined by the city’s legal department.

“Brookhaven enjoys great relationships with its restaurants and bars, and we understand the fact that these restaurants and bars employ a lot of people,” he said. “Not only that, they have suppliers that are in and around the City of Brookhaven, so we’re doing more than just helping the restaurants.”

Alcohol license fees, which typically cost about $5,000, are due at the end of November. The grants are expected to be dispersed before the end of the year.

In addition to this program, the Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce is also handing out free COVID-19 kits to businesses and is offering free deep cleaning services for businesses, using CARES funds.

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Posted by Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Goodman added that the city is exploring options to assist restaurants with outdoor dining options for the winter. Nearby Dunwoody recently announced an al fresco grant matching program to help its restaurants expand outdoor dining.

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