Town votes to allow alcohol sales at outdoor seating of restaurants

Rockin’ Rollie Pollie’s restaurant on Main Street in Franklin received a warning from an ABC ward for violating alcohol policy when a customer was spotted consuming a beer at a table partially located on the town’s sidewalk. The town will revisit its ordinances regarding alcohol consumption at a July 22 meeting. Photos by Abraham Mahshie

Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer

Local restaurants owners petitioning to ease restriction of alcohol sales on sidewalks in front of their businesses were granted permission during a recent town board meeting. 

In April, the town of Franklin voted to allow businesses within city limits to serve alcohol at outdoor seating locations, established on town-owned sidewalks. The town’s vote was less about granting “permission” and more about changing the language in existing ordinances that prevented it. 

The town’s ordinance previously prevented the consumption of alcohol on property owned, occupied, or controlled by the town – and specifically listed sidewalks in the ordinance. The town voted to amend the existing ordinance to include the caveat “This section also shall not apply to the service of beverage in a properly permitted outdoor seating area,” which will now allow places such as Yonder, one of the businesses who addressed the town previously about the issue, who has outdoor seating that overlaps onto the sidewalk, to apply for a permit to serve alcoholic beverages at their outdoor location. 

The ordinance specifies the rules and regulations businesses must follow in order to be issued a permit, such as the outdoor seating area cannot infringe on the original use of the sidewalk for pedestrian traffic, and that the area must be clearly marked. 

Although restaurants in Franklin have not been given the go-ahead to re-open to dine-in customers after being closed due to COVID-19 – once the Governor allows restaurants to fully open, they can apply for the appropriate permits to be able to serve beverages along their outdoor seating locations.