Fayetteville removes ‘hindrances’ to alcohol sales

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Alcohol sales to be allowed at movie theaters, gaming centers, tap houses; carry-outs to be permitted, as well as spiked ice cream and BYOB sites — 

Text amendments to the Fayetteville alcohol ordinance were approved by unanimous vote by the City Council on July 16 in response to businesses being hindered by the ordinance.

Downtown Development Director Brian Wismer said the proposed changes reflect the city’s efforts to be responsive to the needs of businesses saying that they are hindered by the various restrictions or limitations to the alcohol ordinance.

Wismer said the revision would also allow staff the opportunity to implement basic housekeeping measures to improve the daily administration of the code.

Among the several items included in the amendment was one that came up at the first reading on July 2. That dealt with a proposal last year by Cinemark Theaters to serve alcohol. The theater could not comply with the ordinance provision that required table eating for no less than 40 people in an exclusive area.

Cinemark Director of Food and Beverage Matt Dunne in November 2019 said the theater company had 180 theaters nationwide that serve alcohol, adding that the company has security measures in place to monitor consumption and ensure that consumption is not abused.

At the request of council members at the July 2 meeting, movie theaters were included in the amendment and will no longer be subject to the 40-seat requirement.

Addressing the concern about alcohol being served in proximity to children, Councilman Scott Stacy noted the absence of problems with alcohol sold in the family setting at Chuck E. Cheese.

“You don’t get any more family-friendly than that,” Stacy said

As approved July 16, the items in the amendment include:

  • Allowances for businesses within an Entertainment District to possess licenses for both on-premise and off-premise consumption.
  • Regulation for the sale of “alcoholic frozen consumables”, which is essentially ice cream with a measurable alcohol content.
  • Regulation for businesses to operate as a “tap house,” which is an establishment serving a variety of craft beer/wine for on-premises consumption.
  • Regulation for businesses to operate as a “gaming center’, which includes a variety of newer, trendier recreational competitions such as duckpin bowling, cornhole, and axe throwing.
  • Regulations for brownbagging, aka BYOB, for certain business types including art and cooking instructional classes.
  • Elimination of the 40-seat minimum requirement for most licensees, thereby allowing for smaller, boutique establishments.
  • Housekeeping changes to provide clarity and improve efficiency with administration.