LIquor license renewals have begun hitting mailboxes for 2021. Will bar owners get a break?
There are roughly fourteen bars (excluding restaurants) along Broad Street from the five hundred block to the 1200 block excluding side streets. Add the restaurants in and the number on Broad Street alone is over 30 liquor licenses up for renewal by December 31st.
Downtown business owners are hoping the city will help with the expense of their liquor licenses, but time is running out for granting relief to the downtown business owners. Without the license renewal paid in full by December 31st, bar owners cannot legally purchase or sell alcohol. Additionally, the businesses must also secure a state liquor license, which cannot be given until after the county license is renewed.
Earlier this year, bars were mandatorily shut down for three months, and have reopened with restrictions on occupancy for the remainder of the year.
Year over year sales took a serious hit due to the mandatory closings. “We were closed for three months. We aren’t going to be able to perform to the same level as restricted as our businesses are,” said one Broad Street bar owner.
With just a few weeks remaining before the current licenses expire, Richmond County bar and restaurant owners only recently received the liquor license renewals. A number of operators downtown report they have not had any communication with anyone with the city regarding the renewal process.
Yet, some relief may be on the way, albeit at the last moment. Mayor Pro Tem Sean Frantom placed an item on the commission agenda for December 1st to discuss a proposal for a small business relief program for licenses and fees for the 2021 calendar year.
The item was pushed back to next Tuesday, December 8th, according to Frantom.
One of the proposals on the table is to reduce liquor licenses by 25% and have the fee pushed back until the end of June 2021.
The license fees charged by Richmond County are:
Sunday Sales $1,245-1,330
Under the proposal up for discussion, a bar with under 100 occupancy would have their renewals reduced from $4,365 to $3,274.
With all the taxpayer money being spent to promote downtown, hopefully the city will find a way to help the small businesses that make up Augusta’s entertainment district.