Bars To Close St Pat's Weekend Without Law Change - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Potential Law Change Could Keep Bars Open On St Pat's

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Saint Patrick's Day is right around the corner, but city law could cause some Savannah bars to miss out on the weekend celebrations.  That's because non-food selling bars can't serve alcohol on Sundays.  But state lawmakers are working to change that. 

Local bar owners and their employees count on St Pattie's day every year.  Of course the holiday falls on a Monday this year.  But the big parties happen over the weekend including Sunday.  The crowd draws hundreds of thousands of partiers, many of whom are looking to drink. 

But if the law doesn't change, dozens of bars will be forced to shut their doors in the middle of the celebrations.  

"The financial loss in business would be phenomenal.  The day before St Patrick's Day is huge. It's one of the biggest days of the year.  And I don't think any of us can afford to lose it," said Bonnie Walden, owner of Bay Street Blues downtown. 

Walden says being forced to close the day before St Pat's would be devastating.  And she says the stakes are much higher than last year.

"Last year the St Patrick's Day Parade was on a Saturday.  So the biggest days were Friday and Saturday.  This year with the parade being on Monday, all four days, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday will be huge," Walden said.    

The law is that only bars and restaurants that make the majority of their profit from food can be open on Sundays.  Now state leaders are pushing a bill to change that.  It just had its first reading Wednesday in Atlanta's Golden Dome. 

If this bill passes, it will create an exception to the law where any year that a Sunday falls between March 16th and 18th, that bars can sell alcohol regardless of how much or little food they sell. 

"I still find it really hard to believe that a liquor store can be open and a bar can't," said Alderman Tony Thomas who is helping push the change.  "It's a big impact for them and their employees who live with us year around.  But it's also an anti-tourism thing for the hundreds of thousands of people who are visiting us from around this country and around this world." 

"They come here to party. There's not going to be a party on Sunday if the bars are closed," Walden said.   

If the bill passes, it would only affect the City of Savannah.  State leaders still have to vote on the bill to become law.  So far it's seen little opposition.  The Savannah City Council will have final say.  Of course they are expected pass it almost immediately. 

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