Open-container law for Marietta Square may get second look

The iconic fountain in Marietta Square. (Photo by Marietta Visitors Bureau)

The iconic fountain in Marietta Square. (Photo by Marietta Visitors Bureau)

Several months after Marietta leaders chose not to move forward with creating an open container district around its square, a few businesses are urging the city to reconsider the proposal.

Some Marietta Square business owners would like for the City Council to reexamine the idea. If it passed, it would be the fifth city in Cobb County to have an open container ordinance. Smyrna, Acworth and Kennesaw have open container ordinances, and the Powder Springs City Council is poised to approve its own version.

Open-container districts, also referred to by some cities as entertainment districts, allow patrons to carry out open alcoholic drinks from restaurants operating with a designated area.

Gary Leake, the owner of Johnnie MacCracken’s Celtic Firehouse Pub in Marietta, said an open container law would help the city “get to the next level and offer our citizens a quality of life they associate with a fun and progressive city.”

Leake, a longtime business owner, also said Marietta Square is competing with The Battery nextdoor to SunTrust Park, which he said has become a metro Atlanta destination, and also with cities such as Alpharetta, Roswell and Woodstock that are courting visitors with revitalized downtowns.

“Therefore, Marietta could choose to be progressive and open the door to more visitors with this simple move,” Leake said.

Marietta City Council member Cheryl Richardson, a member of the council’s Judicial Legislative Committee that reviewed and rejected the proposal in July 2018, said she isn’t surprised the issue is back in the spotlight, as other cities have made the move to allow residents to sip alcoholic beverages while taking in the sights.

“It would just make sense that it would come back up in Marietta,” Richardson said.

Richardson, who was originally not in favor of the proposal, said she still has concerns about preserving the family-friendly atmosphere Marietta Square is known for. However, she said she doesn’t have a problem with drinking or alcohol, and isn’t against listening to what Marietta Square business owners have to say about the topic.

“I think we need to listen to what people want,” she said. “We don’t necessarily need to say ‘no.’”

Richardson said the proposal could come back before the council committee as early as its March 26 meeting. If it gets the blessing of its members, the ordinance will go before the entire City Council at its April 10 meeting.

Leake said “relaxed” alcohol laws have been drivers of economic growth and business development. The homes that are under construction in the city are not built for families, but are for empty nesters who “want to live and walk to a restaurant or a bar and they want an open container law,” he added.

“Marietta’s real estate market has priced themselves out of the young family market,” he said.