Beer laws might be altered

Friday, September 4, 2009

A restaurant owner wants to serve beer, but Lewisburg law denies him a permit because he's not an American citizen, so city councilors are to be asked if they want to change the law.

"We're going to have to amend the ordinance to make it right," Councilor Robin Minor said after reviewing a beer service permit application from Mei Liana Xiao, 40, of 5th Avenue South, proprietor of China Wok at 910 North Ellington Parkway.

The City Council is to convene at 6 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall where City Attorney Bill Haywood is to pose the beer permit question, according to Minor.

Xiao's application for a permit to sell beer for on-premises consumption shows that he has a 10-year work visa.

Foreign nationals can co-own a business with someone who is an American citizen and the business may be awarded a beer service permit, City Manager Eddie Fuller explained. And, someone who's not an American citizen can have an incorporated business that may receive a beer permit. China Wok is a sole proprietorship.

If the city ordinance is changed to permit "any corporation or individual" to qualify for consideration for a beer permit, then Xiao might be serving beer at China Wok, according to Fuller and Minor.

Xiao's application was discussed Tuesday afternoon during a meeting of the Lewisburg Beer Board, chaired by John Lambert. Minor and Trigg Cathey are members of the board.

Also that afternoon, the Board granted a permit to Angela Mechelle Newcomb, 30, of Bob Cheek Road who plans to open Pit Hogs, a barbecue restaurant, at 536 North Ellington Parkway.

"We didn't see any problem" with the application, Lambert told Newcomb who says she plans to open on Sept. 14.

Newcomb plans a pre-grand opening on Sept. 12, she said.

To promote a family atmosphere at the restaurant she's planning with her fiance, Jackie Fears, there's to be a chalkboard-like wall "for kids for a family environment," Newcomb said. Children will be allowed to paint or draw on the wall.

Newcomb won't allow brown bagging at Pit Hogs, she said. Customers may not bring their own alcohol to the table there.

Brown bagging is addressed in state law which allows municipalities to outlaw it in those jurisdictions.

Meanwhile, Lewisburg councilors have, on two of three required votes, supported an ordinance to add the definition of a bottle club to the zoning code. Bottle clubs serve set ups for drinks that customers mix with their own liquor. Such clubs can't be outlawed, but their location can be specified. This zoning code change says they're allowed in the parts of town that are zoned for industrial purposes.

A third and final vote to add the definition of a bottle club to the city zoning code is anticipated. There's been no opposition. Officials say if there are bottle clubs in town now, they're unaware of them.