City set to revise Alcohol Ordinance; workers question ‘bar card’ enforcement

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Questions continue to brew from the City of Savannah’s Alcohol Ordinance.

New in 2017, a service permit is required for “persons employed as managers, servers, bartenders, door persons, or anyone handling, serving, mixing or dispensing alcoholic beverages in Class A,C or H licensed establishments.” This requirement counted for bartenders, doorman, servers, manager and even pedicab drivers.

Part of obtaining that permit includes an alcohol safety class, background checks, training, and filling out a form from the city. The end result of that permit is what’s referred to as a “Bar Card” which reported costs $45 per person.

Currently there are 544 establishments in Savannah licensed to serve alcohol.

Darren Hines reached out to WSAV after concerns he had about the use of the card funding. Hines works at a restaurant in downtown Savannah.

“They wanted everybody to go get one, forced a deadline, once everybody got a card they decided they weren’t going to enforce it,” he said.

According to the city’s website, as of January 2017, enforcement of the service permit and the required bar card would not be enforced at this time.

“The City will notify establishments when this new requirement will become effective,” the website read. “However, if you are employed in an establishment where bar cards are currently required, you can apply for your new bar card or renew your existing bar card through the City’s Revenue Department.”

According to the city’s Tourism Management and Ambassadorship office, enforcement was put on hold because of concern with how the ordinance was written. Even so, Hines says he is frustrated with the card system.

“It’s more of a, ‘Oh, look the city of Savannah created a revenue generator’ and shows nothing for what they made,” Hines said.

He says he and other restaurant and beverage colleagues are left with one question.

“I think people want to know why did you take money from the front of the house employees in the city and where did the money go if you’re not going to enforce this program,” Hines said.

The city plans to hold two public meetings to discuss revisions for the ordinance, including the bar card, which a spokeswoman for the city says card enforcement will take place once the ordinance is revised. All are welcome to attend and share their thoughts.

Those revisions will then be presented to City Council and is set to be completed in late September to early October.

Those meeting are scheduled for Wednesday, August 23 at 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. at the Savannah Civic Center.

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