City leaders take recommendations on Savannah alcohol ordinance

Changes to Savannah’s alcohol regulations are on the way, with City Council working to update the city’s current ordinance. From expanding zones where drinks are allowed, to permitting some underage to be inside of bars for certain events, city leaders took recommendations on Thursday afternoon.

Aldermen say the current ordinance is outdated, and the changes should improve what’s currently on the books.

“Managing alcohol sales and consumption is a really important issue anywhere, and certainly in Savannah,” Alderman Bill Durrence said.

The proposal has several changes so far, including:

  • All who serve alcohol would be required to have a Bar Card, for proof of training
  • ‘Go-cups’ would be permitted in Forsyth Park for some special events
  • Caterers would be able to obtain an alcohol license
  • Underage 18-20 years old would be allowed in bars for live entertainment such as live music

“We wanted to find a provision where an entertainment venue, a club with live music for instance, maybe a big band or somebody was coming to town, and we wanted to make it possible for that age group,” Durrence said.

However, not all bartenders say it’s a good idea. Staff of several bars in City Market told NEWS 3 it’s a bad idea, but declined to state that opinion on camera.

“I don’t think it’s that good of an idea, it’s…you’ve got colleges here and everything else, kids do stupid things,” said Savannah resident Ngeil Sok.

“It’s going to be hard to differentiate between an 18-year-old holding a beer that got into a club later on after they got in, you know,” Sok said, “I definitely have experience with that.”

Of recommendations taken in meetings, a public safety plan requirement for bars allowing underage is requested. Also, the public proposes expanding enforcement options.

“We’ve got a large group like that [underage], between college students and military, that are here that would want to participate in that sort of thing, so we wanted to find a way to do that,” Durrence said.

The proposed changes aren’t final yet.

“We want to get this. We’ll never get it perfect, and there will always be as we go along, whatever ordinance we finally pass, there will inevitably be adjustments,” Durrence says.

Before the ordinance is even drafted and the readings and votes begin, Council will create a user guide for public dissemination. There will, of course, be three readings of the drafted ordinance; the public will have the chance to provide input.

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