China Grove business owners seek social drinking district

Published 12:10 am Thursday, May 4, 2023

CHINA GROVE — Could China Grove be the next municipality to create a social district for drinkers? Several downtown business owners say bring it on.

During Tuesday’s China Grove Town Council meeting, representatives from multiple downtown businesses appealed to officials to consider the possibility of regulating and permitting a social district on Main Street.

Angela Vaught, owner of Tea For Two Bakery, said she thinks the benefits are two-pronged.

“It would allow for people, after work particularly, to be downtown,” Vaught said. “It would be a reason for us to stay open later because we would have more traffic flow or people coming into the town who may not have had the opportunity to see what is down here. They could freely flow through while they are enjoying a beverage.”

When she addressed the town council during the meeting, Vaught pointed to other municipalities in the area, such as Salisbury, Kannapolis, Mooresville and Huntersville, that have implemented similar policies. Her relative owns Jewelers on Main in Mooresville.

“He said that when (a social district) was enacted in Mooresville that his business tripled within a year,” Vaught said.

Vaught is a China Grove Board of Trade member along with fellow China Grove business owner Shelly Corriher, who runs Wanderer’s Rest Home Emporium.

“I feel like it will bring business to town in the evening, and more people will be able to see what is down here,” Corriher said. “A lot of people work when we are open. If we were open in the evening and had something going on, they would be able to come out and enjoy the town.”

Corriher’s store has one employee besides herself, so she is not worried about hiring extra staff to work extended hours.

Vaught added, “We have a staff of about four people right now that are very flexible.” The small business owner even suggested adopting a new model for open hours, similar to a restaurant.

“We’d keep our hours about the same with maybe a break in the afternoon when it is a bit slower, and people are transitioning from work to school to home,” Vaught said.

Grove Cartel Brewing Co. owner Jason Overcash was the first to make the appeal at the meeting. He serves as the Board of Trade president.

Overcash said the ABC Board has made the process fairly streamlined as long as perimeter designations are clearly outlined.

“You adopt House Bill 211 and mark it clearly with signs,” Overcash said.

H.B.211 permits municipalities to regulate open containers of alcoholic beverages that customers of a multi-tenant establishment take from licensed premises into another area where consumption of alcoholic beverages is allowed.

With the bill, any purveyor of alcoholic beverages would have to sell and serve the drinks on licensed premises. Additionally, the business owner can only sell an open container for consumption in the designated consumption area.

Rules regulating the drink itself also go into effect. The container must identify the beverage’s origin and feature a logo or some other mark unique to the designated consumption area.

Customers are restricted too. According to the bill, a customer may only possess and consume open containers of alcoholic beverages purchased from a business located in the designated consumption area.

The matter was not up for a vote during the meeting on Tuesday, but city officials said they would consider it.