The iconic fountain in Marietta Square. (Photo by Marietta Visitors Bureau)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Open containers on Marietta Square moves towards final approval

Without any debate or discussion, the Marietta City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance to allow restaurant patrons to carry out alcoholic beverages around the Square. 

Council members at their April 10 meeting voted to approve the first reading amending the city’s alcohol ordinance to establish an open-container district. Councilmen Grif Chalfant voted against the item while Joseph Goldstein abstained. 

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

The Council approved the proposal with some stipulations, however. Residents enjoying meals at restaurants will only be allowed to take away drinks from 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday; 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday. No open containers will be allowed on Sundays.

The second and final reading is on the Council’s May 14 agenda for consideration. If it passes at that meeting, the change would go into effect immediately. 

Before casting his vote against the proposal, Chalfant urged his colleagues to “think about this before they vote.” Marietta Square has always been a family-friendly place, and allowing restaurant goers to carry their alcoholic beverages around the area “just doesn’t seem to go with that,” Chalfant added. 

“I think it’ll consistently add to the propensity to drive while you’re drinking, too,” he said.  

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Containers carried from restaurants must be clear, plastic cups no larger than 12 ounces, and customers will be prohibited from taking more than one cup at a time. They will also be barred from having open containers in public streets and sidewalks, trails, parks or any public place. 

The borders of the proposed open-container district are defined as Atlanta/Cherokee streets from Waverly Way to Hansell Street; Church/Powder Springs streets from North Park Square to Waverly Way; Winters Street from South Park Square to Anderson Street; Mill Street from Denmead Street to Cherokee Street; South Park Square; and Anderson Street from Powder Springs Street to Atlanta Street. No alleyway would be included in the district. It also does not include Glover Park and the sidewalks bordering the park. 

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If approved, Marietta would become the fifth city in Cobb to enact an ordinance. SmyrnaKennesawPowder Springs and Acworth all have entertainment districts. Marietta’s district would include the popular square with its shops, restaurants and bars.

This isn’t the first time Marietta has explored creating an entertainment district to be part of its downtown. The Council in 2018 considered the proposal, but it never came to a vote.

The idea was resurrected this year when downtown business owners began circulating a petition to show the council the proposal was popular among entrepreneurs. Alexis Aleshire-Kinsey, co-owner of Taqueria Tsunami on the square, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that every person she has spoken to expressed support for the open-container district.

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