SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Changes could be coming to Savannah businesses that serve alcohol as City Council considers making revisions to the current alcoholic beverage ordinance.
Mayor Van Johnson said alcohol is a big part of Savannah, with hundreds of businesses having permits to sell. But he said the rules need to allow those businesses to thrive while keeping public safety in mind.
The mayor didn’t share any specific changes that are now on the table during his press briefing Tuesday but said ultimately there needs to be clearer rules for businesses.
“We need to make sure very clearly that a bar is a bar,” Johnson said. “A restaurant is a restaurant. And if there’s a restaurant that wants to act as a bar or a club then we need to have a designation to create that, a transitional license, we used to call it a hybrid.”
Under the current ordinance, businesses are required to have a license to serve alcoholic beverages. A number of factors are also considered, including the number of licenses already in the area of a business and the number of incidents involving police.
Fines for not following the guidelines range from $500 to $1,000.
While looking at potential new changes to the ordinance, Johnson said he wants to make sure businesses across the city are keeping their customers safe.
“We know that people need to be trained and understand often times they see things other people don’t,” Johnson said. “That bartender, that server could be the difference sometimes in someone getting home safe or not. So, it’s a variety of things.”
The city is holding public meetings to hear from business owners and current license holders before considering any changes.
It’s happening Wednesday at the Coastal Georgia Center on Fahm St. The first session is at 2 p.m., followed by another at 6 p.m.
The mayor said after that, city council will draft proposed changes, but will likely not vote on it in the next month.