@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

Clubs could become pubs under new bill

Posted May 21, 2014

Right now, technically, there are no bars in North Carolina. Sure, there are some bar areas in restaurants and a category of thing called a private club, but no bars.

— Right now, technically, there are no bars in North Carolina. Sure, there are some bar areas in restaurants and a category of thing called a private club, but no bars. 

Rep. Susie Hamilton, D-New Hanover, would like to change that. 

Current North Carolina alcohol laws say that, in order for a for-profit establishment to serve alcohol but no food, it must be a private club. Although the statute originally envisioned social organizations like Elks and veterans organizations, there are dives and corner watering holes across the state that are, by law, private clubs complete with a membership roll and bylaws.

"It's the dumbest law on the books, and it's selectively enforced," Hamilton said Wednesday. "We need to be treating business in a more modern way." 

To fix what she sees as a problem, Hamilton has filed a bill to create a new category for pubs in state law. Restaurants are allowed to serve alcohol but are required to derive a certain percentage of their revenue from food sales. 

Last summer, the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission announced an initiative to curb violence at private clubs, saying it would more vigorously enforce membership rules that had fallen by the wayside in recent years.

Hamilton said that effort caused a stir at the time among businesses in her Wilmington-based district, but she said it seems to have already ebbed, leaving club owners with extra paperwork on their hands but little to show for it.

Her bill would allow pubs to serve alcohol and not food, if they occupied limited building space. There would be no membership rules for the new pub category in Hamilton's bill.

Allowing private clubs to convert to pubs, she said, would allow law enforcement to concentrate on real trouble spots.

But, she said, there was little prospect for the bill to move through the legislative process this year.

5 Comments

This blog post is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • glarg May 22, 2014

    It sounds like they need the enforcement capability against the bars that are out of control and prone to violence.

    They might start by writing those kind of enforcement controls into the pub bill.

  • Larry Lynch May 22, 2014
    user avatar

    the proven corrupt ABC board and all its tenacles should be chopped off at once and the bizarre laws and rules be totally reformed here in nc-- BUT THAT WON'T HAPPEN becuz the influence of the abc system goes into many many pockets of politicans. it will take the citizens of the state voting in new reform before anything happens.

  • Jackson Smith May 21, 2014
    user avatar

    What the heck is limited building space? Only 10% o a 500,000 sq ft building or what. This is crazy. Whay not enforce the laws on the books. How about stopping people with expired plates on their cars and giving a ticket. And change the law so that judges can not let them off if they have fixed it. They violated the law. I have seen cars out of date for a year and they are not stopped. Time to step up NC.

  • goldenosprey May 21, 2014

    One of the least-bad proposals, you'll see so of course, according to the last line "There was little prospect for the bill to move through the legislative process this year."
    *sigh*

  • dwntwnboy2 May 21, 2014

    These "clubs" are just lip serving the rules. Can't tell ya how many "clubs" I've been in without a membership or member even with me. It's a silly law and should be removed from the books and let businesses thrive.